JCB electric digger wins top MacRobert engineering prize

Torri Donley

Quiet machine: The 19C-1E in a reading room in London's Caledonian Club
Quiet machine: The 19C-1E in a reading room in London’s Caledonian Club

An electric digger from JCB has won this year’s MacRobert Award, the top prize in the UK to recognise engineering innovation.

The Staffordshire company’s 19C-1E vehicle is the world’s first volume-produced, fully electric digger.

JCB’s machine beat shortlisted products from Babcock’s LGE business and Jaguar Land Rover to claim the £50,000 prize.

The MacRobert Award, run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, has been celebrating UK innovation since 1969.

JCB claims its current fleet of electric diggers has saved the equivalent of 15,100kg in CO2 emissions across 5,616 hours of work.

Prof Sir Richard Friend, chair of the academy’s judging panel, lauded the 19C-1E digger’s environmental credentials.

“The digger is more than a great bit of engineering,” he said. “It has the power to be the catalyst for change in an industry that is responsible for around 10% of all of the UK’s carbon emissions.”

JCB Chairman, Lord Bamford, said: “To win one of the world’s most respected engineering prizes is an outstanding endorsement for JCB’s electrification team, who have achieved so much in applying a science which was new to our business. JCB’s electric mini excavator will contribute to a zero carbon future and help make the world more sustainable.”

In contrast to traditional diggers, the 19C-1E is also very quiet, which its designers say makes the vehicle especially suitable for use indoors or in places where noise needs to be kept to a minimum, such as near hospitals and schools.

The MacRobert Award was started in 1969. The Royal Academy of Engineering has developed an online exhibition with the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford to celebrate the prize’s history.

The exhibition comprises conceptual images of past winners taken by photographer Ted Humble-Smith.

Britain’s ‘blindingly cool’ engineering innovation

EMI's CT scanner as envisioned by conceptual photographer Ted Humble-Smith
EMI’s CT scanner as envisioned by conceptual photographer Ted Humble-Smith

To see more photos from the MacRobert exhibition in Bradford and to read the thoughts of Ted Humble-Smith, click here.

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