Cambridge entrepreneurs invent device to gauge vehicle load for safe disaster relief
A team of young entrepreneurs from Pembroke College, Cambridge have won a global engineering challenge to invent an on-board device that can gauge a vehicle’s weight to ensure it is loaded correctly and safely, a problem that is often faced by Humanitarian Relief Agencies in locations with challenging terrain.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Global Challenge encourages young professional engineers (aged 18-35) across the globe to address a real world engineering challenge and invent a solution with their diverse academic and technical exposure.
The competition scenario was developed in partnership with international NGO, RedR and focused on developing a device that can accurately and actively gauge the load weight in a Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, enabling the driver to visually identify when the vehicle is safely loaded and alert the driver if the vehicle is overloaded.
Martin McCann, RedR UK Chief Executive, said: “NGOs often work off-road in challenging terrain and are reliant on vehicle fleets for day-to-day operations. The consequences of overloaded vehicles include higher fuel consumption, serious risk of damage to the vehicle, and increased danger of crash incidents. This can leave vehicles unavailable for weeks at a time, causing implications for the provision of relief services and for the safety of agency staff.
“RedR is pleased to be working with the IET in the Global Challenge and we are impressed with the quality of the projects submitted for the competition. In particular, my congratulations go to the team who designed the winning project.”
The winning team, Good Vibrations, which is made up of three undergraduate engineering students, has developed a concept called ‘Weigh2Go’. The team’s device takes a unique approach to the problem, analysing the vibrational response of the car to a known input force, a principal not currently undertaken by any commercially available solution.
Team member Siddharth Gupta, 21, said: “We researched existing solutions available on the market and after considering the advantages and disadvantages of each one in the context of the brief, decided on a vibration based approach. One of the key disadvantages to any commercial solution was the need for often recalibration by the manufacturer. We were keen to avoid this as it would be impractical in a humanitarian aid context and felt our solution needed to be easy to install and repair.”
Nick Winser, IET President, said: “This competition is all about giving young engineers a platform to highlight their innovations. By shining a light on a particular problem we’ve found that engineers think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions.
“Previous winners of this challenge have gone on to see their innovations becoming reality, so this is a great way to make a difference and solve a real world challenge.”
The winners will receive a cash prize of £250 per person and will each be presented with their trophy and certificate at the IET Innovation Awards in London on 15 November 2017.
A total of 40 teams from 12 countries took part in this year’s IET Global Challenge, a competition organised by the IET Young Professionals Community Committee. For more information, visit www.theiet.org/global-challenge.
Image: Team photo (left to right): Siddharth Gupta, 21; Gwilym Rowbottom, 22; Joshua de Gromoboy, 21.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology represents the public, professional and educational interests of over 150,000 electrical, electronic, manufacturing and systems engineers world-wide.<br>The IET Cambridge Network holds events and talks in Cambridge and the University Engineering Department and the Computer Laboratory, which non-members are welcome to attend.