Pow­er­ing ahead on tuk tuk

Shepparton News - - NEWS - By Madeleine Cac­cian­iga

The world’s most un­likely ex­pe­di­tion ve­hi­cle, the tuk tuk, has been trans­formed into a sus­tain­able form of trans­port by a team of young ex­traor­di­naires mak­ing its way across Aus­tralia.

Across the next three weeks, the So­larTuk Ex­pe­di­tion will ven­ture across the east coast to the Great Bar­rier Reef in the Thai-made, three-wheeled, sun­pow­ered, long-range elec­tric ve­hi­cle to pro­mote sus­tain­able trans­port and a low-car­bon fu­ture.

Un­bound chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ju­lian O’Shea teamed up with RMIT Univer­sity to com­plete the three-month project.

Un­bound, an ed­u­ca­tion startup, works with Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties to de­velop in­no­va­tive global ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams for stu­dents.

Mr O’Shea said the real rea­son be­hind the project was to en­cour­age Aus­tralia to think about sus­tain­able travel.

The tuk tuk can trans­port up to six peo­ple at a time, not in­clud­ing the driver.

‘‘We want a lot of young peo­ple to think around tech­nol­ogy and ideas and bring new things to life and have a lot of fun do­ing it,’’ he said.

De­part­ing Mel­bourne on Sun­day, the team en­joyed the stopover in Shepparton be­fore mov­ing up the coast.

‘‘Our goal is to get there in just over three weeks, def­i­nitely by Christ­mas,’’ Mr O’Shea said.

He said the team had big plans for phase two of the project to ven­ture fur­ther around the world next year.

‘‘If we can get across Aus­tralia we’ll come back for Christ­mas, but the tuk tuk, fingers crossed it sur­vives, it will em­bark on a global trip,’’ Mr O’Shea said.

‘‘In short, it should run smoothly, but there is a lot of elec­tron­ics be­hind it that if it goes well we’re happy and if it doesn’t, we’ve got to catch up.’’

So­larTuk Ex­pe­di­tion leader Carl Moir said he was ex­cited to be in Shepparton and to ex­pe­ri­ence what ev­ery­one had planned for sus­tain­able en­ergy.

‘‘We went and hung out with Di­a­mond En­ergy and they charged us up for a lit­tle bit on bio gas from the poo of Shepparton,’’ he said.

‘‘I think we all know that coal is do­ing more dam­age than good and the sooner we can find new op­tions the bet­ter and it’s re­ally cool to see that hap­pen­ing here in Shepparton.’’

The duo agreed the core of the project was to show that there were sus­tain­able travel op­tions out there and for Aus­tralia to build them for a sus­tain­able fu­ture.

‘‘We’re not set­ting any land speed records, the top speed of the tuk tuk is 50 k an hour, with a daily range of 300 k, so a lot of that time is hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple and groups and schools,’’ Mr O’Shea said. ● To fol­low the So­larTuk Ex­pe­di­tion’s progress, visit www.so­lartuk.org

Pic­tures: Rod­ney Braith­waite

Charg­ing on: The So­larTuk Ex­pe­di­tion is mak­ing its way up the east coast to en­cour­age sus­tain­able travel. Pic­tured above are Un­bound chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ju­lian O’Shea and So­larTuk Ex­pe­di­tion leader Carl Moir. Be­low is a three-wheeled, sun-pow­ered tuk tuk.

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