St. John’s College students bring light to darkness with high-tech device
Hawke's Bay App
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:20 AM
A low-cost sustainable streetlamp that mimics a flower’s ability to track the sun has the potential to save lives.
PEAR II was created by a group of St John's College students well beyond their years as part of their Young Enterprise Scheme project.
‘PEAR’ is a nod to Hawke’s Bay’s status as ‘the fruit bowl of New Zealand, and the group’s aspiration to be the next ‘Apple’.
In a matter of months Project Pear made up of joint CEO’s Dylan Wijaya, Fred Devereux, Harshvir Singh, Tom Cavaney, Jayden Gordon, Ishan Parmar and Alan Uthup have created not one, but two life-saving devices.
In three weeks during level-four lockdown earlier this year, the group created a functional low-cost ventilator using pieces of wood, lego and a power drill aptly named PEAR 1 in response to the global pandemic. It is now on display in the Auckland Museum of Transport and Technology.
However, a significant reduction in coronavirus cases in New Zealand, and a decrease in demand for a ventilator like theirs, motivated the team to apply the skills they learnt and focus their attention on another issue – road safety.
Tom said PEAR I “mentally and physically” prepared them for their second product. “It forced us to come together as a team and overcome barriers relating to the constraints of lockdown.”
“We learnt technological skills, improved our resilience, honed time management skills and learnt to think innovatively in extreme circumstances.”
Inspired by the Arctic Lily, which is shaped to ensure maximum sun exposure, PEAR II features a flexible solar panel at an optimum angle which automatically follows the sun.
If there is no sun, wind turbines will ensure sustainable power.
Dylan says their design which spans three to four metres high allows for quick deployment in remote places and unsafe work environment that need them urgently.
“It will guarantee a stable supply of electricity even when it is cloudy, and the lamp will automatically start lighting when the environment becomes dark using an intelligent sensor system.”
The lamp can be controlled automatically and has an average lighting time of 10-13 hours.
Similar devices currently on the market cost about $5000 not including wiring and instalment costs, whereas PEAR II has a baseline cost of $500 and virtually no daily running costs, Dylan said.
A consortium of local robotic and engineering firms have supported their initiative including Homan Engineering Services, Freenergy Solar Solutions, CR automation and Total Bodyshop Supplies.
Fred says lighting is known to have significant safety benefits. Studies both nationally and internationally indicate reductions in crashes of around 30 per cent where lighting has been present, he says.
“In New Zealand, there are many rural and even suburban areas that lack adequate lighting and that is because of their high cost and laborious instalment.”
Now that they have finished their prototype, they plan on targeting farmers, business owners, rural entities and public agencies to not only prevent accidents but also to improve health and safety.
They have already had interest from potential buyers including farmers, and they hope showcasing it at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market will pay dividends.
In the future, they plan on approaching local councils and the NZ Transport Agency.
SJC is no stranger to success in this field. Seeing boys before them succeed in various business ventures is what motivated the year 12 and 13 students to start their own.
While they were surprised with how the ventilator turned out, Tom says that with all the hard work they have put in, they believe in themselves and believe they can “go a long way” with PEAR II.