Aquaduct Concept Vehicle for IDEO

Using pedal power to alleviate developing world water issues

The Aquaduct is a pedal-powered concept vehicle for the developing world that transports, filters, and stores water. The functional model was designed and constructed over a three-week period by five IDEO engineers and designers for the Innovate or Die contest, hosted by Specialized Bicycles, Google, and Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.

The vehicle seeks to address the two main challenges with water in the developing world: sanitation and transportation. Water-related diseases kill thousands of people each day. Moreover, water sources in developing areas can be miles from home, requiring women to walk these distances daily carrying heavy water vessels. The Aquaduct is designed to enable a person to sanitize and transport water simultaneously, potentially lessening the physical strain of the task and freeing up more time for work, education, or family.

As the rider pedals, a pump attached to the pedal crank draws water from a large holding tank, through a filter, to a smaller, clean tank. A clutch engages and disengages the drive belt from the pedal crank, enabling the rider to filter the water while traveling or while stationary. The clean tank is removable and closed for contamination-free home storage and use.

In its current state, the Aquaduct is a prototype aimed squarely at demonstrating a concept and raising awareness around the issues of clean water in developing countries. Using IDEO’s expertise in human-centered design, in conjunction with guidance from future partners, the Aquaduct team intends to evolve the concept into an economically- and technologically-viable solution, looking to address challenges such as cost, suitable purification technologies, and the logistics of addressing an issue that affects billions of people around the world.

Project date: 2008

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