Soleckshaw –CARBON concept in Social Engineering

This second article in the ‘Sustainable Consumption Series’ talks about Soleckshaw- an optimally-designed, pedal-operated and motor assisted, zero-carbon emission, urban transport vehicle developed by CSIR.

The Soleckshaw is the flagship of CSIR's recently launched initiative- Science & Technology for 800 Million Indians-a campaign that aims to deliver the fruits of cutting -edge science to benefit the poverty stricken.

CSIR-800 is a project which aims at providing a better life to 800 million people in the country and hence bringing solutions in the area of health, agriculture, and energy. Scientific and Technological innovations cover a varied range of technologies such as mechanized agriculture, low cost housing, new cultivation techniques, water purification techniques, and traditional ceramic products using local based inputs. In terms of disaster management, CSIR has provided relief in the face of calamities such as cyclones, tsunami, or earthquakes. Be it the Tsunami of 2004 or the floods in Bihar, CSIR has led the relief process by undertaking through production of instant food through its R&D lab (to the tune of 55 tones of food) and making available sweet drinking water through reverse osmosis and electro dialysis techniques; and at the same time extended support through large scale geo-engineering experiments. CSIR has developed several cost effective drugs for the poor.

Born out of the CSIR vision, CSIR-800 aims at empowering 800 million Indians through S&T intervention. The Mark I version of Soleckshaw has been designed, developed and prototyped by the CSIR’s national laboratory, the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) at Durgapur, in a record time of eight months.


Prof. Samir K. Brahmachari, the visionary behind the CSIR- 800 initiative, desired to improve the lives of the pedicab (rickshaw) drivers by changing the design of the vehicle to enable an electric motor driven vehicle. Building on this vision, the challenge of developing an optimally-designed, pedal-operated and motor assisted, zero-carbon emission, urban transport vehicle was taken up by Dr Gopal Sinha and his team at  the Central Mechanical and Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), and he immediately took the challenge.

Soleckshaw-Carbon matters

The pedicab has been branded Soleckshaw—SOL representing solar, E for Electric and CKSHAW for Rickshaw. It is a rickshaw—three wheeled vehicle driven by BLDC (brushless direct current) and PMDC (permanent magnet direct current), powered by a specially designed lead acid battery. It is charged by solar energy. Research is ongoing for an advanced technology for mechanical propulsion, gear mechanism, advance motor, Li-ion battery and harnessing of renewable energy from available energy resources like solar, hydro, wind, and biomass. The ‘Soleckshaw’ project has been targeted to deliver renewable energy equivalent of 1500 MW, mainly SPV (solar photovoltaic) led, for eight million rickshaw pullers across the country.

The second phase will focus on building export markets for the product as also focus on converting three million polluting auto rickshaws. The second phase is expected to further enhance the renewable energy equivalent by 500 MW. The sector turnover is significant enough to justify government intervention through technology and social promotion and is surely to lead to reduced human drudgery and increased income potential for the rickshaw pullers.

Futuristic Technology for ‘Soleckshaw’ 

It is recognized that the rickshaws in use leave much to be desired in terms of efficiency, ergonomics and aesthetics. This is hardly amazing considering that the design has scarcely changed since it was introduced in India. Therefore actual rickshaw pullers were invited to a workshop for consultation in development of better rickshaws.

The following common points emerged:

  • Provision for motorized assistance for haulage
  • Brakes on both  front and rear wheel
  • Larger tread width with better tyre
  • Reduction of rickshaw deadweight
  • Protective cover above the puller’s head
  • Energy efficiency through better designs of controllers

Some of the applications contemplated for ‘Soleckshaw’:

  • Traditional passenger / goods carrier
  • Green vehicle for tourist places
  • Personal family vehicle
  • Community transport
  • Mobile Dispensary for midwifery
  • Waste disposal vehicle
  • Vehicle for the physically disabled
  • School carrier
  • Colony in campus micro transport
  • Trade Show Vehicle.
  • Ice-cream / Fast Food Cart.
  • Postal Carts.


**Specifications of Controller

Author: Rajesh Kumar