Looking at research that supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we spoke to Francesco Passarella who recently published a paper ‘Introducing SNAP: a novel pedal-assisted electric ultralight vehicle’ in the open access journal SN Applied Sciences - about how innovation in transportation and mobility is central to sustainable development.
The focus of my research work is on ultralight electric quadricycles, vehicles whose weight can actually lead to energy savings and reduction of pollutant emissions. The electric vehicles that are in fact spreading on the market lately have a very high mass, which partially nullifies the benefits of using an electric vehicle. Lately we have been focusing a lot on vehicles with hybrid transmission, drive by wire in which the transmission takes place not mechanically but electrically with a generator that produces electricity by pedaling.
The short-term goals are to be able to optimize vehicle dynamics and range. Once we have managed to optimize these aspects, we will try to give the maximum diffusion to this type of vehicle which would be able to significantly reduce pollutants in our cities.
The impact is important as a deeply felt problem of pollution is addressed and a practical solution is proposed to mitigate this problem. Furthermore, in some areas of the city where internal combustion vehicles cannot access, deliveries are made only with cargo bikes. Almost all of the cargo bikes currently in use are evolutions of the common two-wheeled bicycles. With SNAP, a new model of cargo bike is proposed that will increase safety, comfort and driving pleasure for couriers and more generally for those who work with cargo bikes.
Surely the objectives that are most related to our work are: "Affordable and Clean Energy - SDG7" since the pedaling contribution of the cargo bike user together with the low weight of these vehicles makes them extremely efficient in terms of energy consumption. The other related objective is "Sustainable Cities and Communities - SDG11", these vehicles will in fact contribute to making cities more sustainable and with lower polluting emissions.
With COVID, sales through marketplaces have increased significantly, and therefore a solution like SNAP would also be absolutely focused on mitigating the problem of internal combustion vehicles used for last mile deliveries. In fact, traditional means of transport are often used to deliver small parcels in urban environments, and very often the loading compartment of these vans is not even saturated.
The most effective way to communicate our research is to be able to see the diffusion of this type of vehicle in our cities, in order to be able to experience this solution first-hand and also raise awareness among the population on the subject. Certainly working on a topic so sensitive to public opinion in this historical moment makes the population and the scientific sector much more sensitive to the activities of SNAP.
Try to address critical issues by proposing feasible solutions that can make a real contribution to mitigating and/or eliminating a problem. In this way, citizens will also be able to experience firsthand what research and innovation means, and perhaps in turn become passionate about these issues and make their own contribution to humanity.
Francesco Passarella, Mechanical Engineer, PhD Student at the Politecnico di Bari, Italy, CEO of SNAPORAZ s.r.l.s. Founder and CEO of SNASP s.r.l.
SNAP s.r.l. is an innovative startup collaborating with the Politecnico di Bari to produce a light vehicle that combines a pedal-assisted cargo bicycle and a city car. SNAP is an innovative vehicle conceived and designed to make a significant contribution to solving the problems of urban mobility related to pollution from fossil fuels, high vehicle management costs, traffic congestion and the consequent continuous increase in travel times in the city, and also improves user safety when compared with the safety of a common bicycle. The vehicle's low weight, around 130kg, guarantees a range of 60km with around 2kWh of batteries.