The life of the average Indian rickshaw puller is a hard one. Traversing vast lengths of jagged terrain, anchored by an overload of passengers, aided by absent gearing. With wages well below the poverty line, the little money they earn can barely sustain a steady flow of food, leaving little to no chance of pullers ever being able to buy the rickshaws themselves. Pullers are therefore, forced to rent bikes at rates which, in the long run, far exceed the price of the bikes. Exhausted pullers can seldom afford the time and energy needed to return home, and consequently, end-up sleeping on the rickshaws themselves. These strenuous conditions have resulted widespread malnutrition among rickshaws pullers. India is home to some 8 million rickshaw pullers, many of whom will not live to see 40.
This project embodies the TATA Steel initiative of improving the quality of life of poverty stricken workers in less economically developed countries. In support of this initiative, the rickSURE team are attempting to reduce the burden placed on these 8 million pullers with a revised design of the current rickshaw. Working towards a rickshaw with reduced inefficiencies, the team are developing a system that will allow the energy lost during braking, to be captured and utilised. While regenerative breaking is a mature technology, the challenge will be ensuring the solution is also economically viable. We are aiming to allow rickshaw pullers to do more, exert less, and ultimately, make their lives easier.