Detroit-based startup Inventev has developed a work truck with both petrol engine and electric drive, which can serve as a mobile power generator to provide an emergency electricity supply to areas struck by natural disasters.

Inventev’s Multi-Function Hybrid Truck Provides Emergency Power Source

Victims of recent hurricanes and tornados in the United States suffered from a lack of effective response, either because the emergency services were ill-prepared or because they did not have the right equipment. It has become clear that, despite the availability of social network-based coordination tools, there is a distinct shortage of on-the-ground solutions in such emergencies. Now Dave Stenson, who previously worked in senior roles at General Motors and Hummer, has set up a company called Inventev. By 2015 Stenson plans to launch a multi-function truck, which will also be equipped to serve as a mobile electricity generator to power emergency systems.

Invent + electric vehicle

The Inventev concept is that the multi-use worksite/emergency truck, which has not yet been given a name, will be able to provide a range of specific functionalities to respond to the various challenges and needs which disaster victims and other inhabitants of affected areas are likely to face. It will for instance be able to accommodate a crane, thus providing immediate emergency rescue capability, especially when the local fire and rescue service is hampered by a shortage of personnel, as may happen whenever a major catastrophe strikes. A key feature of the truck is however that it will be driven by hybrid technology, capable of running in all-electric mode but also equipped with a petrol engine for cases where the vehicle’s electricity is required for emergency local supply. In effect, the truck can function as a large battery that can be directly hooked up to buildings or systems. This highly mobile generator can be deployed fast in response to the most urgent situations to assist people in need. Dave Stenson’s team have designed the vehicle’s architecture so that an entire block of buildings in the neighbourhood could be conveniently powered by these versatile trucks.

Towards a multi-functional approach

Aside from the actual vehicle, which could prove to be an essential link in the chain of emergency services and in the near future could be integrated into rescue and support systems, the initiative is extremely valuable in itself. By creating an emergency truck powered by environmentally-friendly electric technology, Inventev is killing two birds with one stone and demonstrating that the deployment of powerful emergency response equipment is fully compatible with an environmentally-responsible approach to energy consumption. Meanwhile, on a wider scale, the trauma created by hurricane Sandy in 2006 seems to have provided fertile ground for thought on such topics among inventors and innovators. These reflections are likely to lead to the development of equipment with higher performance levels, which will in turn help to reduce the number of victims of such recurring disasters.

By Quentin Capelle