The Practical Utility Platform (PUP) is a part of the Purdue Utility Project Global Design Team at Purdue University. Our goal is to integrate students interested in international development learning opportunities with international partners to provide sustainable transportation and a multipurpose utility platform for improving food security and economic opportunities for end users.

A common need in developing countries is for a low-cost, simple, multipurpose utility platform to provide access to markets, food, water, education, and medical care. The project goal is to design an innovative mobile platform that can be manufactured, sold, and serviced within the local region. The vehicle will be built in-country utilizing components and materials readily accessible to that region. The PUP is also an adaptable design, allowing for alternative components to be exchanged with minimal impact on the vehicle’s overall design and function. The PUP can provide services such as transportation (people, water, food, supplies, etc.), agricultural tillage and planting, and power for attachments such as maize grinders, water pumps, and electrical generators. Benefits of the project include

  • Employment opportunities through a micro-factory producing the vehicles
  • Improved transportation options that provide better access to schools, markets, water, medical care, construction materials
  • Increased time for entrepreneurial activities through reduced time spent collecting and transporting food, water, and other supplies

Moreover, it is also a product and model that can be easily replicated.

The Practical Utility Platform (PUP) will continue to be optimized using state-of-the-art engineering and modeling tools to ensure a sound technical design. Collaboration with international partners will ensure the appropriateness of the application and confirm that local design and manufacturing constraints are met. Several prototypes have been built and tested for verification of the design and concept.

The PUP is designed to carry a payload of 900 kilograms at lower speeds (<40 km/hr), allowing for the use of smaller engines. These engines are simple to repair, lightweight, carry low purchase and operating costs, and offer good fuel economy (initial testing of a PUP prototype demonstrated fuel economies up to 26 km/L). Manufacturing in-country provides employment and local ownership of the project. The design of the PUP provides higher loading capacity than motorcycles while not significantly increasing the capital cost and includes the added benefits of agricultural mechanization, portable power generation, water pumping, and maize grinding. Potential end users include smallholder farmers, small business owners, and municipalities.