Rickshaw Bank profile

Rickshaw Bank

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Over eight million cycle rickshaws are used daily in India, but most rickshaw drivers are too poor to own their own vehicles, instead renting them daily at a significant percentage of their income. The Rickshaw Bank (TRB), an Indian nonprofit, is challenging this model, making its own rickshaws that drivers can pay for on an installment plan, gaining ownership of the rickshaw in about one year.

This team is working with TRB to improve the rickshaws being sold. Within the extreme cost constraint of $230 per rickshaw, they have made a number of incremental improvements to the current model’s efficiency and safety, including an emergency rear braking system and a redesigned frame that weighs fifteen pounds less. Ongoing projects include a gearing system (current rickshaws are single-speed), a luggage rack for passengers, and head- and taillights. They are also working on more radical changes, such as the addition of an electric assist with regenerative braking.

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