Towards a greener future: Garbage collector e-rickshaw

I remember a couple of years ago when Electric Vehicles (EVs) were the new buzz word in the market. EVs were supposed to be humanity’s one-stop solution for a wide range of problems, from air pollution and climate change to the non-renewable energy crisis. But as the initial excitement fizzled out, we went about purchasing the good old petrol and diesel automobiles, occasionally implementing the ‘odd-even’ rule to buttress our guilty conscience. I wasn’t any different but cycling into the black clouds fuming from the exhaust pipe of a two-stroke diesel rickshaw in my residential complex compelled me to change my perspective.

 Every morning, the rusty rickshaw would circle the farms, collecting garbage from houses, and picking dry leaves from pavements. After my cycling experience, I decided to procure a load-carrying e-rickshaw that could relay the waste from each house to the municipal treatment plant. I reached out to several EV manufacturers in North India, hoping that one of them would resonate with my cause. Several rejections later, I was delighted to receive an email from Hero Electric — they agreed to donate a disassembled passenger-rickshaw prototype for my project. And even though it came with lead-acid batteries instead of the fast-charging lithium-ion ones, I couldn’t have been happier! 

Once the prototype was assembled, the next step was to design a load body and a compression mechanism that would prevent the dry leaves from blowing off. The design went through multiple AutoCAD iterations before settling on the final design, using a linear screw instead of the initial horizontal rod that was more susceptible to leaf-clogging. As soon as the design was ready, I shipped the raw materials to a local workshop, where we built and welded the load body and compression mechanism on top of the passenger-rickshaw prototype. 

A significant hurdle during this process was ensuring workplace safety and social distancing due to Covid-19. Thus, I ensured that each worker was provided with a mask and sanitisers were placed at locations where workers could access them without having to move, thereby optimising both speed and safety!

 Having finished building the e-rickshaw last month, I am now working closely with the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of my residential enclave to ensure its smooth implementation. I have received the Innovator Award 2020 from The Shri Ram School, Moulsari, Gurgaon for my e-rickshaw project. In the coming weeks, I am applying for a patent for my innovation of the horizontal compression mechanism. But more importantly, I aspire to leverage this experience to advocate for a sustainable future and foster tech innovation that can help create a greener world. 

The writer is a Class 12 student and is currently pursuing the IB diploma programme at The Shri Ram School, Moulsari, Gurgaon.

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