Design of a Trailer Bus for Rural Africa

Photo of Leonard Edwards, Lisa Ivy, and Gregory ( Students: Leonard Edwards, Lisa Ivy, and Gregory ("Greg") Sherman

Sponsor: Institute for Affordable Transportation

Date: Fall 2009

The team's task is to design a light, inexpensive, and durable trailer bus that can carry five to six people. The trailer must include a safety measures to prevent roll over and overloading and must not contribute instability to the towing vehicle. With a $400 budget, the team must fabricate a full scale, working prototype weighing less than 275lbs and having less than a 1000 lb gross vehicle weight rating (fully loaded). Only basic manufacturing processes, such as arc welding, may be used to fabricate the prototype. All materials used in the prototype's construction must be readily available "in-country".

Our mission is to design and build a trailer to transport people and goods in rural Africa. This trailer should be low-cost, light-weight, and durable.

Customer needs analysis data gathered from actual end users in Africa suggested that the trailer should transport cargo other than humans. The final design combines elements from different concepts developed through concept generation. Material selection was based on feasibility calculations that simulated loads on different geometries of structural members. Finite element analysis was performed with different frame configurations to minimize stress and deflection. The final trailer is 50 inches long by 54 inches wide and constructed of 2"x2"x18" ASTM A-36 steel angle and plywood, both of which inexpensive and readily available materials.

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