Hydrogen Electric Agricultural Utility Vehicle with Active Suspension
Design of a safer, renewable energy utility vehicle for the rural sector.
Note: this design targets the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability.
What problem does your design idea solve?
In New Zealand, agriculture is second only to forestry in the number of workplace fatalities each year, with farm vehicles in general and Quad Bikes, in particular, proving problematic.
Four-wheeled motorbikes, commonly known as Quad Bikes or All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s) have a long history of use in the New Zealand agriculture sector, where there are approximately 100,000 Quad Bikes in use.
Researchers estimate that 35 farmers come off their Quad Bikes every day; nine of them are hurt badly enough to take time off work to recover, approximately 850 people are seriously injured every year, costing $10 million in ACC claims per year. Furthermore, workplace fatalities from Quad Bikes average approximately 28% of all work-related farm deaths.
Quad Bikes ability for use on a range of terrains means that they are often exposed to high rollover risk due, in part, to steep gradients and rough terrain, as well as, in some cases, inappropriate towing or overloading. I have addressed these concerns by designing a safer utility vehicle, better suited to New Zealand’s agriculture environment and applications.
What are the potential benefits?
• Preventing and reduction of injuries and fatalities.
• Low noise emissions, Zero GHG emissions.
• Vehicle design specifically for environment and applications = greater efficiency and productivity.
• Saving time and money, reducing downtime and pressure on hospitals and emergency services.
• Offering alternative energy solutions and improving quality of life
How is your idea novel or an improvement on what is currently available in the marketplace?
The vehicle is a new bespoke design, enhanced with modern technologies. The vehicle has a passenger safety cell designed to withstand 6G collisions and active self-levelling suspension that can prevent vehicle roll-overs. Powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, the vehicle is driven by four electric hub motors which are managed using torque vector control and allow zero radius turning. Furthermore, enhanced with bidirectional 4G GMS network and autonomous driving capabilities.
Where would this idea be applied?
Agriculture, Forestry, Mining, Expiration, Recreation. Anywhere a better suited off-road vehicle is not available.
What is the market potential?
100,000+ unit for NZ alone, potentially 100M+ units globally.
How would your product be manufactured?
Conventional methods, welded steel frame, composite fibre reinforced plastics etc.
How would the production cost compare with products already in the marketplace?
Currently, the mass production cost is twice to four times that of a conventional Quad Bike. However, in 5 years’ time, the cost of hydrogen fuel cells will drop allowing us to compete with current vehicles.
The suspension technology could be licensed to any vehicle manufacture for enhanced vehicle stability, handling, comfort and dynamic control.