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NZ design students go the extra mile to win national James Dyson Award

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Inner-city delivery methods are often plagued with poor handling and safety issues leaving few safe alternatives to the larger fossil-fuel delivery vehicles. In New Zealand and across the globe, there is a growing need for a better solution: 

- Traditional delivery vehicles cost companies and consumers in a range of ways 

- the fee has to cover road taxes, petrol, parking permits and time, and also lost productivity while sitting in traffic and finding vacant loading zones. The environmental impact is also well documented with Governments around the globe committing to a reduction in carbon emissions, particularly in bigger city centres. 

 - Over 60% of all online purchases are delivered to customers living in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 1.8 million Kiwis made online purchases that required delivery in 2018, and 44% of those online shoppers purchased more than once a month (The Full Download Report, New Zealand Post 2019) 

- New Zealand has seen an increase of EV vehicle sales over the past few years, signalling Kiwis’ commitment to sustainable vehicle solutions (Motor Industry Association statistics 2019) 

New Zealand’s national James Dyson Award winner, the Electric Cargo Trike aims to address this problem. Six young industrial design students have today won the local edition of the prestigious James Dyson Award for their Electric Cargo Trike, which aims to solve a multitude of problems faced by New Zealand cities including environmental issues, efficient package delivery, and safety for couriers. 

With New Zealanders increasingly dependent on delivery services for parcels, particularly with an increase of online shopping, the six-person team wanted to create a safe, sustainable option for those deliveries. Their Electric Cargo Trike is significantly different from any existing fully electric cargo delivery vehicles with this product’s design focusing on handling and driver experience. 

The young designers from Massey University in Wellington identified a gap in the market for sustainable package delivery alternatives, in place of the larger delivery vehicles that are "incredibly inefficient" for small packages in urban and suburban areas. "The last few kilometres are the least efficient in the delivery process, and we wanted to create a safe vehicle that addresses that problem and solves it," said Daniel. 

With their winning entry, the young designers will receive NZ$3,500-: "We’re excited that Electric Cargo Trike has been recognised by the James Dyson Award, we now hope to further its development to offer more sustainable deliveries in the future. We love how James Dyson set out to solve problems, which is exactly what we set out to do. Our product went through an extensive iterative process and sustainability is very important to us, so this competition was a great natural fit for us."

How Electric Cargo Trike works 

The designers - Daniel Shorrock, Chris Warren, Fergus Salmon, Zoe Lovell-Smith, Liam Avery, and Oscar Jackson, all studying a Bachelor of Industrial Design at Massey University (Wellington), said they were inspired by sports bikes and the increasing trend of Kiwis moving to more sustainable vehicles. "We know New Zealanders care about the environment and think they would feel better if they had an electric trike delivering their parcel than having a van in their driveway," he explained. 

 However, the design wasn’t as simple as the drive to solve this last mile delivery problem: "We had four main prototypes, over 10 CAD [Computer-Aided Design] models, and countless sketches and Lego models getting to this final product. We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours over 12 weeks trying to make this the most effective, safest, and easy vehicle to use and we think we finally got there," explained Daniel. Future plans for the Electric Cargo Trike see a range of possibilities including use on New Zealand farms. 

 "We see this working well within an agricultural context. Potentially replacing quad bikes with a vehicle that is much safer. The tilting mechanism makes it much harder for the vehicle to roll over and injure the driver" say the students behind the Electric Cargo Trike. 

 The ability to lean into corners make the vehicle much more stable at higher speeds, meaning it can handle obstacles such as speed bumps, rough terrain and curbs exceptionally easily. The wishbone suspension has a large degree of travel while the two front wheels give the vehicle a lot of traction at the front. The three-wheeled setup also allows for greater cargo capacity than a traditional motorcycle. 

 "It can stop faster, corner harder, and provide more stability than a normal cargo bike," added Daniel. This design also means packages are safer and are more likely to make it to their final destination undamaged. Plus, easily interchangeable batteries mean delivery downtime is kept to a minimum by allowing it to run all day with only short breaks needed to swap the batteries out. "The idea is that you charge one battery at the depot while you’re out doing deliveries, and when you get low, you simply swap it out so you don’t have to wait for a battery to charge," said Daniel. 

 James Dyson Award judge Sir Ray Avery says: "This is an urban ute. Nobody has applied disruptive thinking to this type of vehicle before. This could become a transportation game-changer from a global perspective. Having spent a significant amount of my life in the developing world, I see a real need and opportunity for this design. The Electric Cargo Trike has a place in every developing country and is a great example of Kiwi applied technology." 

 The Runners Up 

Nah Yeah Buoy (Hannah Tilsley and Chamonix Stuart, Victoria University of Wellington) 

Problem: Approximately 80% of Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s 1,000 annual rescues are caused by rip currents, and studies show that drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand.

Solution: With most New Zealander’s living close to the beach, these designers wanted to design a product that would help detect a rip current to warn beachgoers of the hidden dangers to prevent drownings and rescues due to rip currents. The "Nah, Yeah Buoy" is an adaptive system for water safety designed to identify rip currents near beaches, visualise their locations and movements, and provide interactive alerts and warnings for lifeguards and water users. 

BOU (Sian Hosking Berge, Massey University, School of Design) 

Problem: Children at pre-school age learn best through stimulating play, however modern life means there is less opportunity to learn and build than previous generations. 

Solution: BOU provides an opportunity for children to create their own useable product. It is a kitset ride-on for two to five-year old’s, providing a self-affirming learning experience for young children and the opportunity to build their own toy.

All three entries will now progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award with the hope of winning up to NZ$55,000-- and NZ$9,000--- for their university. Their entries will be judged by a panel of Dyson engineers who will select an international shortlist of 20 entries. The Top 20 projects are then reviewed by Sir James Dyson, who selects the international winner. 

James Dyson Award 

The competition is open to student inventors with the ability and ambition to solve the problems of tomorrow. Winning solutions are selected by Sir James Dyson and show ingenuity, iterative development and commercial viability. With students from 27 nations now competing, the award is set to welcome new approaches to a broader range of global issues than ever before. 

Since the competition first opened fourteen years ago, the iconic inventor has already contributed over £1m to championing boundary-breaking concepts. To help finalists to develop their novel idea, each year the overall winner is awarded £30,000, and winners in each participating region receive £2,000. Unlike other competitions, participants are given full autonomy over their intellectual property. 

The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award embody a vision to empower aspiring engineers, encouraging them to apply their theoretical knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology.  

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