The goal of the Purdue Utility Project (PUP) at Purdue University is to integrate students interested in international development learning opportunities with international partners to provide sustainable access to power and transportation. The team has developed a multipurpose utility platform that can transport large loads over rough terrain, power multiple attachments (water pumps, food processing equipment, generators, etc.), and perform tillage, planting, and weeding operations for improving food security and economic opportunities for end users. Products are built in-country utilizing components and materials readily accessible to that region. A PUP product like the AgRover is an adaptable design, allowing for alternative components to be exchanged with minimal impact on the vehicle’s overall design and function.
The PUP team continues to design, build, test, and optimize new products using state-of-the-art engineering and modeling tools to ensure a sound technical design. Close collaboration with international partners improves the appropriateness of the application and confirms that local design and manufacturing constraints are met. Many prototypes have been built and tested for verification of the design and concept.
The PUP designed AgRover is designed to carry a payload of 1000 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 prototype demonstrated fuel economies up to 26 km/L). Manufacturing in-country provides employment and local ownership of the project. The design of the AgRover 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.