Besides building luxury cars and motorcycles, BMW has made some pretty impressive sports gear, including an Olympic bobsled that drove Team USA to men's bronze and women's silver and bronze medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. BMW of North America announced today that it is now focusing attention on the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games. It's reaching into its deep well of mechanical know-how to develop a racing wheelchair for the US track and field team.
We've seen various stair-climbing wheelchairs over the years, including the iBot, the Chiba and, most recently, the Scalevo. All those designs kept the "wheel" in the chair, but a new design from Hong Kong relies on a set of robotic "pedrails" that look almost like skinny tank tracks. These articulated pedrails allow the electric B-Free Chair to grip the staircase firmly as it navigates up or down.
Last year we heard about the GRIT Freedom Chair,
an off-road wheelchair that users propel using arm levers instead of
hand rims on the wheels. While it's pretty neat, it isn't the first
product of its kind. One of its predecessors is the British-made
Mountain Trike, which is now available in two new models to accommodate
riders with varying physical challenges.