Working with our partners, we built our latest prototype in Cameroon (May 2015). There are now four prototypes capable of operation and we have accumulated multiple years of testing on the 2012, 2013, and 2014 prototypes. The 2015 prototype had a few minor design updates (clutching mechanism and several frame updates) to address any weaknesses discovered during the operation of the 2012-2014 prototypes.
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The project goal is to design an innovative mobile system that can be manufactured, sold, and serviced within the local regions where it is used. The vehicle is built in-country utilizing components and materials readily accessible to that region. The PUP is an adaptable design, allowing for alternative components to be exchanged with minimal impact on the vehicle’s overall design and function. The PUP can provide services such as transportation (people, water, food, supplies, etc.), agricultural tillage and planting, and power for attachments such as maize grinders, water pumps, and electrical generators. The project provides local employment opportunities through a micro-factory producing the vehicles, improved transportation options that provide better access to schools, markets, water, medical care, construction materials, increased time for entrepreneurial activities through reduced the time spent collecting and transporting food, water, and other supplies.
Collaboration with international partners guides the development of new capabilities and ensures that local design and manufacturing constraints are met. Several prototypes have been built and tested in Cameroon for verification of the design and concept.
The PUP is designed to carry a payload of 900 kilograms at lower speeds (<40 km/hr), allowing for the use of smaller engines (4-8 kW). These engines are simpler to repair, lighter in weight, carry lower purchase and operating costs, and offer a superior fuel economy (initial testing of a PUP prototype demonstrated fuel economies up to 26 km/L). Manufacturing in-country provides employment and local ownership of the project. The design of the PUP provides much higher loading capacity than motorcycles while not significantly increasing the capital cost, and includes the added benefits of agricultural mechanization, portable power generation, water pumping, and maize grinding. Potential end users include smallholder farmers, small business owners, and municipalities.