Tag: Riversimple

23
May

RIVERSIMPLE ACCELERATES IN DUBAI

Riversimple has just returned from a two-month accelerator project in Dubai – an initiative that has seen the Rasa and our philosophy embraced by a completely different culture living in a much harsher environment. 

The timing wasn’t great, with 20 Beta test cars to get built in Wales, but when the Dubai Future Foundation, headed by Dubai’s Crown Prince, invited us to take part in the 4th Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme, we jumped at the chance. We were sponsored  by a powerful government department: the Road and Transport Authority (RTA).

The view from the top of the Emirates Towers

Dubai is a place like no other. It laid its first modern brick in 1973 and is now a city state of 3 million thoroughly multicultural people. Furthermore, it continues to expand at a furious pace. Despite its terrible air quality, mad traffic issues and paradoxical desire to be environmentally friendly, there are 27,000 building projects on the go as we write and the skyscape is a sea of cranes.

The DFA is designed to enable businesses to develop technologies and proposals far quicker than would ever normally be the case. Companies taking part (37 in our ‘Cohort’, selected from 677 applicants) are hosted in the Government’s offices to allow for accelerated processes, hence the DFA’s tag-line: ‘pulling the future forward faster’.

The entrance to our office

Dubai is unashamedly determined to be quickest, boldest, biggest, highest, cleverest and altogether ‘the mostest’, not only among other Emirate states but also among all countries of the world. It also happens to be one of the hottest and dustiest places, humid and salty, so pretty tough for the Rasa. But that provides the perfect opportunity for us to ‘accelerate’ our technology development for much more extreme climates. We want to bring a Whole System Design approach to developing both a highly efficient cabin cooling system and  fuel cell cooling technologies. That done, the Rasa and its descendants could operate in a far wider, much warmer market.

So, for the past 8 weeks, a revolving team of Riversimple personnel have been in the DFA offices investigating how the RTA – and other independents – could embrace not only the hydrogen economy, but also our technology, circular economy business model, and a culture of ultimate efficiency.

We have met with around 80 different interested parties, exploring opportunities with R&D establishments, data specialists, blockchain experts, niche vehicle builders, financiers, transport companies (not least the RTA themselves), energy suppliers and distributors, entrepreneurs and developers, the EXPO 2020 organisers, and a host of national and federal government officials. The Welsh Government were there to support. It was a rollercoaster of dialogue and investigation and the result is an agreement with the RTA to progress our agenda, ultimately – we hope – building a dedicated Dubai-friendly prototype.

So, in the land of big cars with big wheels and big engines we are pleased to report that our championing of the hydrogen future, our circular economy model and all things Rasa have found synergy. And if small can be recognised as beautiful there, it can be anywhere.

Our grateful thanks are due to the Dubai Future Accelerators (in particular our Project Manager Faisal Kazim and Program Managers Karin Gabriel and Abdallah Kanaan), the Future team of the RTA (in particular the wonderfully enthusiastic and technically-savvy Mohamed Saleh Al Shareef), and our friends and advisors Kyle Weber, Dr Alessandro Zampieri and Mohamed and Abdulsalam Haykal).

13
Sep

PIONEERING: COOPER, LOTUS, RIVERSIMPLE

Cooper and Lotus put the UK at the forefront of Formula 1 in the late 50s.  As they showed, when it comes to step changes small teams have an unfair advantage.  For them there was one simple goal – speed.  Many Riversimple engineers come from the racing world but their goal is different – not speed but lightness, in every sense of the word.

In 1948, the Royal Automobile Club employed ex-farmer, James Wilson Brown to turn a wartime airfield and farm into a race track for the first RAC International Grand Prix.  On 2 October 1948, a crowd of 100,000 gathered to see Luigi Villoresi beat a field of 22 in his Maserati.  A piggery in the middle of the race circuit was protected by hay bales and ropes, with canvas barriers around the outside to keep everyone on the course.  The track was Silverstone and the history of Formula 1 racing was in the making.  Always edgy and inventive, these early racing cars were technical miracles in their day – built for ‘the purpose of earthbound flight’ – made up of chassis, cockpit, panels, engine, tank, wheels – and nothing else.

COOPER AND LOTUS

Cooper and Lotus put the UK on the Formula One map and rose to the top in the racing world – without ever building an engine.  The 1950s was a time when lots of engineering took place at the back of someone’s garage or workshop, often during some spare time after work.  Engineer and racing enthusiast Charlie Cooper built the first chassis for a rear engine Cooper – which was to transform Grand Prix racing – in such a workshop.  Colin Chapman built the first Lotus around an Austin Seven engine in a lock-up garage behind his girl friend’s house.

Chapman’s Lotus 15 1959 –engine is still at the front

Chapman’s Lotus 15 1959 –  the engine is still at the front


Cooper Mk Vlll with rear engine 1950s

Cooper Mk Vlll with rear engine 1950s

These pioneers bought engines off the shelf and then built a very different car around them.  They were inventive and talented, and they spent many hours tinkering and trying out new ideas.  For them there was one simple goal – speed.  Their impressive success can be traced back to their ingenuity; they actually started with less powerful engines than some of their competitors but were able to step up the game by designing a better overall system.

NEW PURPOSE

Hugo Spowers, like many Riversimple engineers, comes from the racing world.  He left motorsport in order to “pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport”.  The Rasa is Riversimple’s first production prototype.  The story of its development has much in common with the story of those early F1 pioneers.  But the goal is different – not speed but lightness.  And we mean lightness in the broadest sense of the word – a car that treads lightly, that leaves the air clean, the future more secure.  To meet the goal there are choices to be made.  Once you decide to build around a hydrogen fuel cell, a whole new set of options become possible.  A lighter car.  A new technology.  A new system for managing energy use … this is system change.  The paradox is that, while you need a large company with a large budget to make incremental improvements to conventional cars, a small, agile team with a small budget may be better placed to make a quantum leap.

Riversimple Rasa H2 fuel cell powertrain 2015

Riversimple Rasa H2 fuel cell powertrain 2015

The breakthrough at Riversimple is wholly innovative.  If you want to help us succeed, join our crowd of investors. We may have started in a small workshop, but we mean to show the world what is possible.

 

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