Rolling Without Limits

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New Wheelchair Scales Stairs
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New Wheelchair Scales Stairs

People have already heard about standing and rowing wheelchairs, marveled at wheelchairs with double casters and built-in walkers, and been amazed with wheelchairs that enable users to navigate freely at the beach. But engineers and experts have not yet stopped on improving this mobility device. And so today, another wheelchair is being introduced in the public – one that uses tank tracks.

A team of engineering students studying at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology or ETH in Zurich or Industrial Design at Zurich University of Arts wanted to reinvent the device into something more remarkably useful. And so they ingeniously build a wheelchair that uses tank tracks.

After realizing that accessibility to buildings and other public places are limited due to lack of ramps and lifts, the team decided to build a wheelchair that is designed to help its users climb stairs without hassle. The team created an electric wheelchair that is capable of going up and down the stairs without putting its user at risk to any harm or injury. And they call their invention the Scalevo wheelchair.

In order to achieve this feat, they used tank tracks that have rubber grips. These rubber grips clutch onto the steps above in order to propel or push the chair and its user up the stairs but in a backward manner. When the chair reaches the top, a pair of small support wheels extend down to prevent the device from falling or toppling over.

The Scalevo wheelchair is balanced on two wheels when it drives around flat surface or ground. The tracks are only lowered down when it is about to climb a set of stairs.

The 10 members of the team that created this remarkable wheelchair are:

  • Carlos Gomes – He is part of the core team. He is responsible for coordinating everything between the team and others like coaches, sponsors and production partners.
  • Roman Kaslin – He is tasked to take care of the system engineering part. His main job is the coordination of intersections between subsystems. He also makes sure that the defined and specific requirements of the project are met. He is currently a third year in mechanical engineering.
  • Jonas Kuhne – He is responsible for the electronic part of the system. He is in charge of establishing connections and communication between all electronic components. He is also tasked to optimize power consumption to increase the battery lifetime of the device. He is currently a third year electrical engineering student at ETH.
  • Dario Mariani – He is in charge of coordinating the testing and assessing the risks involved in the project. He is also responsible f the construction of the balancing system. He assists in the construction teams of all the other assembly groups. He is also a third year mechanical engineering student.
  • Milan Schilling – He is the one in charge of the rubber tank track system of the electric wheelchair that enables it to climb and descend stairs.
  • Ian Stahli – He is in charge of the control system, making it as reliable and well founded as possible.
  • Miro Voellmy – His responsibilities include covering the constructions of the main frame of the wheelchair as well as the support system.
  • Bernhard Winter – He is responsible for the software, meaning he develops the user interface and sets up the communication between the sensors and motor controllers. He is also the initiator of the project.
  • Thomas Gemperle – He is the industrial designer of the project.
  • Naomi Stieger – She partners with Thomas in creating the design details of the project. She is also responsible for the corporate design.

Though the Scalevo is still a prototype, the team already showed in a video how this stair-climbing wheelchair works. And how it operates is truly remarkable. Check it out:

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