"Transport is necessary in achieving a wide range of objectives including economic growth, personal welfare, governance and empowerment as well as security." ~ P. Njenga & A. Davis, Drawing the Roadmap to Rural Poverty Reduction

Monday, August 11, 2008

Testing the Human-Powered Utility Vehicle (HPUV)

So, I lied - this post is coming to you from Garoua, on my way to Yaounde. The last few days have been pretty busy, and I was able to get some more pictures of the HPUV uploaded as well as a video! You can paruse them here:


Friday we met one last time with the guys to give them certificates of appreciation, and to tour the village with the and the vehicle. It was great to hear feedback from so many people, and to get a good idea of how well the vehicle was being accepted by the community. All told, I think our mechanics are going to find themselves with plenty of work in the near future!

The HPUV turned some heads. Actually, it turned a LOT of heads. Everyone who saw it had questions about it, but one question that was pleasant to hear repeatedly asked was "Can you build more?" When we went to the sous-prefecture (the local government building), the mechanic driving the vehicle shifted into a middle gear and raced straight up to the front door, over some notoriously nasty ruts - without problem. The local dignitaries seemed retty amazed, and talked about the unique font end of the vehicle. Almost everyone, at first, asks if it is difficult to drive, and the mechanics are quick to say it just takes some getting used to.

Apparently in the few days I was gone from the village, they spent quite some time testing it. Pere Roger, the priest at the mission who wasn't sure the vehicle would be that useful, asked the guys to load up as much stuff into it as they could move with one person - he was reportedly delighted and surprised that it was over 100 kilos, a feat even two people couldn't do on foot.

As questions about the vehicle abounded, I directed most of them to the mechanics, who handled them with good preparation. Based on their knowledge and the small concepts that I taught them about frame strength and balancing, they've already figured out the changes they want in the next model they build. It was hearing this that let me know my work is nearly finished here. The guys don't really need me anymore, and that is the best feeling in the world. They understand that it's their vehicle and their knowledge, and they will be able to handle production in the future.

We also took the vehicle to the market. Ousman flew down the hill like he was on a simple bike, showing off how fast he could go on the thing. HE waited for us outside the market, and as we walked in with the vehicle, so many people gathered around that we couldn't even move. I have a good video of it, but I'm having trouble uploading it. Said and done, some revisions will be needed for future models, but the HPUV is a hit. I've never been so happy with one of my designs, and I can't wait to get a final document uploaded and sent all over the world.

I'll revise this post with some pictures later, but we need to get lunch for now.

No comments: