LOWELL — UMass Lowell students designed, built and tested a prototype, solar-electric-powered taxi that can ferry passengers at 25 miles per hour without consuming a single drop of gas.

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UMass Lowell student Alexander Gribov, who is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
drives a prototype of the solar-electric-powered taxi that he and fellow undergraduate students have developed.
Along with him for the test drive is Professor Seil Saudbekov of Eurasian National University in Astana, Kazakhstan.
PHOTO COURTESY Edwin Aguirre for UMass Lowell 

The prototype has received the attention of the government of Kazakhstan, which has expressed interest in applying the technology in its country. Kazakhstan’s leaders have provided the students $27,000 in seed money to develop a similar solar-electric taxi for exhibition at the Astana Future Energy Expo in 2017.

The following students took part in the project: Anass Dahany of Lowell , a senior Electrical Engineering major; Christopher Leger of Tyngsboro, a senior Electrical Engineering major; and Jared Mrvos of Windham, N.H. , a sophomore Computer Engineering major.

The taxi uses a 150-watt solar panel to charge a 20 ampere-hour battery, which in turn runs the taxi’s DC motor. Charging the solar-electric taxi from a grid costs half a cent per mile, but when charged completely using a solar panel, there is no cost at all.

The vehicle can travel more than 20 miles on a full charge, making it ideal for commuting around campus and in crowded cities, as well as transporting people in hotels, resorts, golf courses and between hospital wings, according to the students.

“Our students are designing an improved version of the taxi right now, and we are preparing to submit a grant proposal to fund the project,” said Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Samson Mil’Shtein, director of the university’s Advanced Electronic Technology Center and the students’ faculty adviser.

“We are thinking of commercializing this technology in the near future,” he added.