Diet drive: World first calorie burning car
AUSTRALIAN adults are among the least active in the developed world but a new start-up has developed a way to get us to work up a sweat.
The FitCar PPV has been developed by Nasser Al Shawaf and Dutch engineering company BPO.
The prototype PPV (Pedal Powered Vehicle) is based on an Audi A4 Avant, powered by the regular 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine - but control of its acceleration and braking is is like nothing seen in a car before.
The PPV has removed the accelerator pedal and in its place is a pair of bicycle pedals hooked up to a flywheel. The accelerator is controlled by an active pedalling motion rather than depressing the pedal in a conventional vehicle. This set-up generates an electronic pulse to engage the accelerator.
FitCar has removed the brake, too, and replaced it with a handbrake located on the steering column.
The concept allows time poor people to make use of their commutes to and from work.
"I work in many cities around the world where a 60-minute-plus car commute, each-way, each day is not uncommon," says FitCar PPV inventor Nasser Al Shawaf.
"This is an unhealthy way to waste more than two hours every day. So, I came up with the idea of the FitCar - which does exactly the same as any conventional car - getting us safely and comfortably from A to B, however in the FitCar you can exercise while you drive," he says.
The PPV can be driven in three modes: Drive Fast for highway speeds, Drive Slow for slow moving traffic and No Drive for bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Drivers can also opt in for a harder workout via a rotary dial that controls the pedal resistance.
"Our studies suggest a calorie burn-rate of more than 300 per 30 minutes," says Al Shawaf. "We are increasingly time-poor, and unfit, and the FitCar PPV provides at least part of the solution to these two problems for those of us wishing to exercise more but without the time to do it. I'm really proud of the results."
The car is patented internationally and is awaiting approval for sale in the Netherlands.
However, the project is still evolving with several improvements and add-ons under consideration.
"There are several options to further develop and evolve the project," says BPO managing director Oscar Brocades Zaalberg.
"We could feasibly introduce regenerative braking, or different packaging so we can fold the pedals away and return to standard drive mode. We could also develop an app to go with the PPV to maximise calorie-burn, efficiency and to introduce different routes and challenges among a community of followers," says Zaalberg.