Drill Vehicle

Project for Component Design Course at the University of Colorado Boulder

January 2015 - May 2015

drill vehicle
Teammate Joseph Schwan preparing to test drive the drill powered vehicle.

Program Background

As a part of the Component Design course at CU Boulder, students form teams and create a vehicle powered by a cordless drill. We used the concepts we learned in class to analyze our designs to ensure they would be safe. Each semester, there are different design challenges each vehicle must meet. In Spring 2015, the vehicle had to either: have at least 3 custom designed and machined components; contain as few parts as possible with no parts custom machined; or be as creative as possible with no parts custom machined. At the end of the course, all teams compete in a hill climb challenge, with the fastest vehicle winning.

Creativity Challenge

My team and I chose the Creativity Challenge for our design challenge. We all had experience machining custom parts, and wanted to attempt to use only standard and simply modified components in our design.

My Role

I was the Project Manager for my team of three other Mechanical Engineering students. I kept track of the schedule and deadlines, maintained the Bill of Materials, and kept the project budget. I also assisted in the design of drive system and triggering mechanism.


vehicle render
Historically (for the course) teams modify a children's bike for their vehicle. My team instead designed our vehicle as a lawn chair with wheels. The vehicle was steered with a lever system and powered by a single, rear drive wheel.
mechanism detail
I designed the plate that supported the drill. It was attached to the 80/20 aluminum extrusion that held the back wheel to the chair frame. The rear wheel was originally the front wheel of a kid's size bike, and we made the chair and frame from wood we cut to size.
back detail
Using a bike brake, a spring, and small metal bar, I created a trigger to power the drill. The brake handle mounted to the steering assembly. Squeezing the handle pulled the cable attached to the rod and spring, stretching the spring and pulling the bar against the drill trigger.


In the course competition, our vehicle finished the hill climb challenge and competed in a "beat the box" challenge. Ours was not the fastest vehicle, but it didn't stall on the hill. We did well in the "beat the box" challenge. With the single back drive wheel, the vehicle was highly maneuverable, and was able to turn very sharply.
vehicle front
Our drill powered vehicle was one of the most creative designs in the course. It was very stable, fast going downhill, and very comfortable.