One aspiring entrepreneur has taken to Kiwi crowdfunding platform PledgeMe in the hopes of raising $30,000 to cover various international patents for his self-regulating pneumatic vehicle suspension system.
With two days to go, he is about a sixth of the way to his goal.
English transplant Simeon Gilbert, who now calls New Zealand home, says he's been working on developing a better vehicle suspension system for more than 10 years.
Gilbert came up with the idea after he was unable to find a system which met his specifications. He began researching systems in 2001 and began designing concepts in 2008; while it started as a hobby, it gradually became the focus of his engineering endeavours – desiging a system suitable for vehicles negotiating uneven surfaces with the need to carry varying loads.
The system, he says, would be ideal for drivers on roads that are unpaved or covered in potholes or rocks. Few vehicles are currently suited to continued use on these types of roads – common in rural areas and overseas in Africa, Asia and South America – which is an issue for military personnel, aid workers, agricultural workers and others.
"If this suspension system gets into production I believe it will revolutionise the suspension and transport industry, but more importantly it will revolutionise accessing remote areas. It will reduce wear on vehicles, their cargos, and even the roads increasing accessibility and efficiency," says Gilbert.
According to Gilbert, a New Zealand patent on his idea is pending. If his efforts to gain international patents are successful he will be on the hunt for manufacturers interested in taking on the project, with the next step being a computer simulation analysis.
"While on one hand not having a patent means it is free for all to build, which sounds like a good thing for society, but in fact it is not as good as it sounds ... For a company to be able to justify the level of investment needed to achieve this, it needs the monopoly that a patent provides."
Gilbert says he does not have the resources to further research and develop the concept himself; instead he hopes a potential manufacturer will fund this. If there are no takers, he will develop it himself part-time while working.
So far he has generated publicity through Facebook, 4x4 Action magazine and good old word of mouth.