An approach to converting a conventional quad bike to run solely on electrical power has been planned and executed by a student team from the University of Southampton under sponsorship from REAPsystems. What's special about this student project is that the team must be able to deliver a quality, functional and safe product which would satisfy the needs of the stakeholders within budget and time constraints. From technical perspective, there is a lot of detail to the electrical system that even professional companies in the field have underestimated for years.
The vehicle was obtained from Chilworth Conservation Area & University Science Park, where it is used regularly in an environmentally sensitive area on difficult terrain. Noise and air pollution from the original vehicle, as well as unreliable operation, were considered to be significant drawbacks and provided motivation for a cleaner, quieter alternative.
The performance of the batteries and motor were modelled to simulate the performance of the vehicle, whilst further simulation was carried out to estimate stresses that would be seen in the new components under cyclic loading. Innovative features such as the use of an inverter and regenerative braking were investigated to assess their feasibility relative to the advantages they offered. After the design phase, bench testing was carried out to validate the performance of the batteries and motor, this allowed for debugging of the electrical circuit and testing of the torque available at a pre-defined current draw. This was followed by installation onto the vehicle and physical testing on Highfield Campus and Chilworth Conservation Area itself. The net increase in mass was limited to only 9kg, helping the vehicle to achieve its performance targets.
The launch event was taking place in April 2016 at Chilworth Conservation Area with participation of EVC team, REAPsystems, Southampton Science Park, SETsquared, Prof Suleiman Sharkh & some local farmers.
160 kilograms of water were loaded onto a trailer attached to the rear of the quad bike to verify the vehicle's towing capabilities.