In just the last year, six AgRovers have been built in four countries.
The MAPS AgRover is a utility vehicle with a design focused on maximizing agricultural productivity while still being affordable in developing regions around the world. This rugged, three-wheel vehicle is capable of navigating terrain both on and off road while carrying a payload of up to 2000 lb (900 kg). Its lightweight yet strong construction translates into great fuel economies and a top speed approaching 20 mph. Testing has shown fuel economies of 40 to 60 mpg (18 to 26 km/l) for the 10 hp diesel engine option under heavy to light loading. The AgRover was developed by students through design projects at Purdue University and in partnership with the African Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (ACREST, http://www.acrest.org), an NGO in Cameroon. Over the last seven years, seven prototypes have been manufactured locally in Cameroon and there are currently 3 vehicles that operate daily to assist ACREST. ACREST has rented out the AgRovers to local farmers to collect and transport their harvest.
In just the last year, six AgRovers have been built in four countries. Apart from being able to transport goods, the AgRover is also capable of powering a variety of attachments and implements like water pumps, maize grinders, generators, threshers, plows, and planters.
The AgRover is valuable because it provides farmers and other agricultural businesses access to power and transportation that would otherwise not be possible. This access allows farmers to be overall more productive by providing valuable farming inputs like fertilizer, seed, and water. In many developing countries, most work in rural areas is done manually with few alternatives. The AgRover can provide valuable mobile services right on the farm, bringing in additional revenue and saving farmers time.
For example, an entrepreneur could start a small business by traveling from farm to farm to grind maize using a MAPS maize grinder powered by the AgRover in a fraction of the time it would normally take to do by hand. Additionally, access to farming inputs like fertilizer and seed can be made more readily available by providing a more affordable means of transportation. This in turn increases farming yields and revenue. Furthermore, they can now provide irrigation to their crops in irregularly dry seasons by attaching a water pump to the vehicle’s engine. Farmers and other rural businesses can cut down on post-harvest crop losses through the use of the AgRover to transport their goods to local markets promptly to earn additional income.
No other product can perform the diversity of tasks like the AgRover can for a similar price.
The competitive advantage of the MAPS AgRover is the utility it delivers to its end user when compared to its low purchase price over any other type of vehicle or similar equipment on the market in most developing countries. No other product can perform the diversity of tasks (off road transport, power attachments, pull field implements) like the AgRover can for a similar price. Unlike cars and trucks, the AgRover can traverse off-road, haul large loads, power attachments, pull implements, and costs significantly less. Two wheel tractors can cost less sometimes, but require a trailer to carry a load (often unsafely) and are not manufactured locally. Finally, motorbikes and trikes cost less, but can not carry as much, can not power or pull other equipment, can not travel off road, and are also not manufactured locally.
The AgRover has a distinct advantage of being locally manufactured from locally available parts and materials. This is an advantage in both maintainability and affordability. Replacement parts for imported equipment can often not be found in sub-Saharan Africa. Using local materials allows users to be able to locate replacement parts quickly and affordably. Additionally, locally manufacturing a product using local materials cuts costs by eliminating import and transportation costs. Finally, local manufacturing reduces the gap between users and producers, allowing for a more user-centered design.