Mount Kilimanjaro, a Tanzanian dormant volcano mountain, will soon be conquered by a Paralympic athlete. All thanks to a new all-terrain wheelchair that will help scale the large stratovolcano.
A team composed of five engineers from Airbus, an aircraft manufacturing division of the Airbus Group, designed and developed a new all-road mobility chair for a Paralympic athlete who is scheduled to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in September this year. All five engineers, who are affiliates of the Spanish group of the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers), are set to accompany the athlete on his upcoming journey.
The team ingeniously designed the new all-terrain wheelchair to be as light as possible. In fact, it is 50% lighter than all the other off-road mobility chairs found in the market for it only weighs 15 kilograms. The chair may be very light but it is also built to be capable of handling the bumpy surfaces and rough terrain of the Tanzanian stratovolcano.
Mount Kilimanjaro is considered as the highest peak in the world’s second largest continent, Africa. The dormant volcano mountain, measuring 19,341 feet or 5,895 meters high above sea level, is also considered the highest free-standing mountain in the planet. With these features, the mechanical engineers creatively put together a piece of equipment to succeed in this adventure.
The wheelchair has two front wheels and one back wheel for stability purposes. The steering mechanism can be locked in place so that the hand levers can be used. The levers provide power and work like a person pedaling a normal bicycle, except that they are designed for the hands. Some parts of the off-road chair, like the wheels, are made of carbon fibre, the reason why the device is lightweight.
The engineers put a chest plate to support and help the user lean forward when holding and using the hand levers or pedals. They also incorporated foam on the seat to provide comfort. A liquid gel is also included to give heat since it is very cold in the Tanzanian peak.
The team already created a prototype which is bound for a series of rough road tests. But with the idea and the design of the off-road wheelchair, Mount Kilimanjaro is destined to be scaled.