Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Wheelchairs

The Whill Type-A wheelchair

A couple of years ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, we came across an interesting prototype device known as the Whill. Looking sort of like a giant pair of headphones, it could be clamped over the wheels of an existing manual wheelchair, temporarily providing it with an electric drive system. Although that particular device was never commercialized, its makers recently let us know that a product based on the technology is now about to enter production – the Whill Type-A motorized wheelchair.  Read More

The RoboDesk helps wheelchair users more easily access tablets and lightweight laptop comp...

Although some wheelchair users could conceivably make use of devices like the GoPad, a researcher at Purdue University has developed a motorized wheelchair tray that looks to be a better option for giving wheelchair users convenient access to mobile devices. Employing a motorized arm, the “RoboDesk” can deploy or retract a tablet or lightweight laptop computer as needed.  Read More

The University of Virginia solar-powered wheelchair

A solar-powered wheelchair designed by students at the University of Virginia has won first prize in a competition, Change My Life in One Minute, to mark World Cerebral Palsy Day. Entrants to the competition were asked to come up with an innovation that could make a significant difference to a person with a disability. The solar-powered wheelchair can run continuously powered only by the sun.  Read More

The wheel size is reduced from 24 inches in diameter, to 32 x 12.5 inches when folded

Getting from A to B in a wheelchair is enough of a challenge in itself, without considering the hassle of stowing the chair away each time its user wishes to travel by car, plane, or train. The Morph Wheel aims to make life a little easier in this regard, by providing a wheelchair wheel which folds into almost half its original size.  Read More

The i-Transport robotic vehicle lets the wheelchair-bound reach a standing position

Constantly being talked down to is bad enough, but wheelchair users also have to deal with the problem of accessing items that are often located out of their reach. A research team from Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has developed the “i-Transport” robotic vehicle that is designed to get wheelchair users on their feet so they can carry out conversations eye to eye and grasp hard-to-reach items.  Read More

Chevy and Michigan Technological University's new cycle (Photo: General Motors)

Chevrolet and Michigan Technological University have teamed up to build a new tricycle for wounded veterans. This new cycle is built to be race-ready, so users are still able to compete in marathons and other distance races in the most efficient way possible.  Read More

JTEKT demonstrated the NOBOROT's stair-climbing capabilities at JIMTOF 2012

Researchers at the University of Tokyo's Kamata lab are working on a new wheeled robotic vehicle that can climb stairs. Called the NOBOROT, it uses a proximity sensor to detect when it is next to a step and is able to maintain a level posture while ascending and descending to ensure a smooth ride.  Read More

The Chiba Institute of Technology robotic wheelchair in action

Making a wheelchair that can deal with steps and other obstacles has puzzled engineers for decades, with everything from tank treads to spokes tried and found not quite practical. Now a team of engineers from the Chiba Institute of Technology, led by associate professor Shuro Nakajima, have applied a bit of lateral thinking. They have developed a robotic wheelchair that isn't sure what it is. Normally, it operates on wheels like a conventional wheelchair, but when it meets an obstacle, the wheels turn into legs.  Read More

Simon Burfield has created a wheelchair from LEGO Technic and Mindstorms components and so...

Back in June we demonstrated the incredible versatility of LEGO and the mind-boggling talent of those who spend hours and hours snapping together tiny bits of plastic to create something awesome. One contender for the next round is the LEGO Wheelchair built by Simon Burfield.  Read More

Wheelblades help prevent the front wheels from sinking

When the going gets snowy and slick, people turn to snowshoes and ice cleats to get them over wintery ground. Those in wheelchairs don't have quite as many simple options. Essentially mini skis that lock onto the front wheels of a wheelchair, Wheelblades are designed as an easy-to-use solution that aid traction and give a little extra oomph through snow, ice and slush.  Read More

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