This Crazy Farm Tool Of The Future Carries People, Ploughs Soil, And Generates Electricity

To make a farm work in India, you need more than just a tractor. You need the beehive, a multitool in vehicle form.

Farming in rural India certainly isn’t easy. There’s the monsoons for one, and the heat and bad roads, not to mention the spotty access to electricity. One thing that helps is when farmers have a good vehicle to get around–to put workers in fields, harvest crops, and make deliveries.


The vehicle displayed here isn’t available at the moment, unfortunately. It’s just a concept. But, properly constructed, many farmers would surely be glad for it. Designed to cope with what Indian farmers face every day, it’s an all-around vehicle that’s really all-around.

Conceived by J.J. Hwang, a recent graduate from Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California, the “Beehive” is modular and flexible. In one mode, it carries up to 10 passengers, plus cargo, in a long trolley. In another, it can be taken apart to become a walking plough. And in a third, an engine detaches to become an on-demand electricity generator.

“India has pretty bad infrastructure. They have very a hot climate and a big electricity shortage. My vehicle solves all these things,” Hwang says.

Although the design is still on the drawing board, Hwang has thought through the key components. At the back and front, he’s put engines from EcoMotors, a well-regarded company based in Michigan. Its two-stroke units are said to be 30% lighter than equivalent four-stroke units, with 15% to 50% better energy efficiency. EcoMotors organized a student contest last year: Hwang’s entry got Bronze, behind designs for a mid-size passenger car and a pick-up truck.

Hwang, who’s originally from South Korea, also entered the Beehive for this year’s James Dyson Award, which just closed for submissions and announces a winner in November. He says the design was partly inspired by elephant rides: The driver and passengers are far off the ground on the back of a lumbering mammal. Hwang hopes the vehicle, if developed, helps farmers stay dry during the monsoon’s torrential rains.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.