Human Powered Indian Rickshaws Go Electric Assist Via Solar Power

The rickshaw is an iconic symbol of Indian transport. Unfortunately, it’s also a source of hardship for those who pull them for a living. Recently, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Smt. Sheila Dikshit, in conjunction with India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), announced the solution, aimed at cutting greenhouse gases while improving the lives of rickshaw pullers: the Soleckshaw solar-powered pedicab.

According to India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Soleckshaw makes use of a low power, high torque brushless DC motor developed specifically for the project. This motor turns rickshaw bikes into dual power hybrid e-bikes, allowing pedicab drivers to easily power up hills or merge into traffic. Wired reports that the Soleckshaw can carry two passengers at 9 mph for around 25 miles per charge. After that, drivers return to solar charging stations for a fresh set of batteries.

Soleckshaw

image via India's Ministry of Science and Technology

The Soleckshaw concept has been in the works for a while, according to Greenlaunches, but got stymied due to motor damage associated with the rapid stopping and starting of pedicabs in busy areas. Undaunted, Delhi is launching the Soleckshaw just in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games scheduled for this October.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.