The all-terrain Dirt Reaper designed by the team from SRM, bagged the prize at the BAJA SAE India 2012

For a year, 24 engineering students from SRM were putting away money for an ambitious project: designing an all-terrain vehicle for BAJA SAE India 2012. These youngsters — known as ‘The Conrods' — also ventured into a wide array of tech contests, won some, and donated the cash prizes to the team fund. Impressed with their commitment, a few corporate houses stepped forward to support them. Today, they are glad they invested in The Conrods.

The ATV designed by the team – Dirt Reaper 2.0 – was adjudged the best after a close scrutiny by a panel of experts at a grand finale in Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh. Besides winning the overall championship which involved, among other things, a four-hour endurance race, The Conrods finished second in the trials for safety and manoeuvrability.

“A fire extinguisher that can be operated by the driver without stepping out of the vehicle, a mechanism that prevents the driver from starting the vehicle unless his seat belt is buckled, and a wireless communication system that enables contact between the driver and the pit control area are features that won us a safety award,” says Subhash Babu, team leader of The Conrods. In the manoeuvrability test, the Dirt Reaper 2.0 admirably tackled a difficult course full of logs, stones, slushy potholes and water-filled ditches.

The victorious SRM team faces one more challenge: marketing their Dirt Reaper 2.0. This effort is the logical extension of the BAJA SAE India contests, which stoke the fire for developing indigenous automobile technology.

The top prize-winning ATV weighs 270 kg, has a 300 cc engine, a two-wheel drive, is capable of a top speed of 60 kph in off-road conditions and around 75 kph on the tarmac, can negotiate inclines up to 40 degrees and is GPS-enabled.

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