“The innovative and sustainable Smart Mobility concept for Africa”
The Botswana Solar Car is the fourth prototype of our Bamboo Solar Car versions. It was developed during the SMART GREEN BOTSWANA MAKEATHON in Botswana in November 2019, only half a year after the project kick-off. The Solar Car was completed within 3.5 days by an international and interdisciplinary team of 7 people. The Solar Car Botswana was mainly made of affordable parts. In addition, second-hand or recycled materials were used. Among other things, a second-hand solar panel was locally bought in Botswana.
The car is also equipped with applications that provide information about the car, the current local weather, the range, and other features. The battery is charged within 4 hours. Furthermore, when talking to the locals, it quickly became clear that another component is indispensable: a tarpaulin that protects the driver from sand and dust. This additional protection makes the Solar Car Botswana perfect for African safari tours.
The project took place after officials of the government from Botswana showed interest in the Bamboo Solar Car and approached us. They had the vision to set up a project like the Bamboo Solar Car in their country. They attached great importance to our know-how, our experience with such Smart Mobility projects and our innovative training concepts in the context of Education 4.0.
By implementing this project, they wanted to mobilize the willingness of their young generation for the new future topics such as Industrie 4.0 and Smart & Green Technologies. In addition, the goal was to attract German investors – including some electric car manufacturers – to set up production facilities in Botswana. For this reason, the Botswana government decided to implement two concepts in parallel – the realization of the SMART GREEN BOTSWANA MAKEATHON and the development of a special African version of the Bamboo Solar Car.
In order, to pursue this goal, a student team from Botswana was sent to our MUNICH MAKEATHON in June 2019, which was a part of the Trade Fair Laser World of Photonics, to gain insight into our innovative training concepts. This highlights how far our Education 4.0 mission is already known even beyond country borders. During the SMART GREEN BOTSWANA MAKEATHON, one main goal was to promote creativity and innovation in terms of Industrie 4.0 and Smart & Green Technologies projects. On the other side, another intention was to create capacities to enable future investments in Botswana.
The aim is to ensure that enough well-trained and skilled workers are present in Botswana when new production facilities are built in the country. Therefore, it is particularly important to expand and implement innovative training concepts in Botswana. With the help of the Solar Car Botswana, the foundation for this has been laid. The Solar Car Botswana is the first model of this versions that was built in Africa for Africa.
The Solar Car Botswana project team faced additional challenges of its own. While the students had imported suitcases of materials such as electronics and car parts into Botswana, they ran into difficulties with some of the components. Due to delivery difficulties, the locally ordered bamboo was missing. As a result, the team had to redesign the entire car body under great time pressure. In doing so, they demonstrated a high degree of technical competence and flexibility. After China and Colombia, we were thus once again able to extend the reach of our training projects beyond European borders.
Botswana and Africa in general is very interested in future-oriented topics such as digitalization and sustainability. This creates an enormous potential for companies to enter cooperation and establish production facilities there. However, the basis for such projects is the proper education of local specialists and the promotion of young talents.
Projects like our Solar Car Botswana and our Makeathons offer the best opportunity to develop innovative concepts and quickly put them into practice. The Solar Car Botswana project is important because it has created a simple and sustainable means of transportation in a country that is lacking such innovations. This way, the special needs of the local people can be met and at the same time it is possible to educate young people in this region. This puts the principle of helping people to help themselves into practice. Furthermore, prototypes can be developed for these specific problems, which can eventually become concrete market products. It makes sense to implement projects such as the Bamboo Solar Car in connection with Makeathons, because this creates a platform to bring young people together and to call attention to the projects.
In addition, such projects and events in particular draw the companies’ attention to young talents and their skills. Young talents are thereby supported in fields such as engineering, software development, innovation skills and international as well as interdisciplinary cooperation. All this happens under real project conditions and with a determined time limit. Moreover, students can build a network with other young people and companies for the future. This leads to the advance of innovative educational approaches in the context of Education 4.0, which we place a special emphasis on.
For the future, further optimizations of the Solar Car Botswana are planned, such as increasing the range and more intensive tests of the car in different conditions of the African continent. With the optimizations of the Bamboo Solar Car in Botswana, a basis for the further development of the Bamboo Solar Car and thus new prototypes could be created.
This model was so well received that this project was followed up as part of the DUISBURG MAKEATHON 2020 and as well as part of a lecture at the University of Duisburg-Essen. At the University of Duisburg-Essen the students developed an optimized version of the Solar Car, focusing on new features such as autonomous driving and parking. Since 2021 the latest project in this series is the Solar Golf Car. This was developed by us in cooperation with a local golf course in Gran Canaria to make the power consumption of the cars more sustainable and thus contribute to the expansion of renewable energies in the mobility sector.
Our vision behind the Solar Car Botswana project is very diverse and easily applicable for global educational purposes. As always, we are particularly keen to promote young talents within the framework of innovative educational events, to provide creative training, and to generate enthusiasm for technology and future topics in the fields of digitalization and sustainability. With Education 4.0, we manage to develop innovative solutions for the problems of our time.
The focus is on promoting proper education beyond national borders and thus supporting the young generation worldwide and getting them excited about future topics such as Smart & Green Technologies. In doing so young people are given the opportunity to shape their own future and that of their country. Additionally, with this project we want to achieve that Smart Mobility is available for everyone and that it is more sustainable. By implementing that simple project idea, poorer regions around the world or regions with weakened infrastructure can gain mobile access and build their own vehicles.