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Wheelchair that climbs stairs developed by 4 university students

/ 07:25 PM April 04, 2017
self-balancing, stair climbing wheelchair

The wheelchair is able to self-balance thanks to Segway-like technology embedded within. Image: Scewo Official Website

Individuals on wheelchairs need a certain degree of planning whenever they go places.  Ramps and lifts are a must, otherwise going up inclines and stairs will be very problematic.

Four students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and University of the Arts in Zurich took it upon themselves to solve this problem. They developed a prototype wheelchair that can climb up stairs with ease, reports TechRadar.

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Stairclimbing_Schematics-uai-1032x610

This schematic shows how the Scewo will be able to traverse stairs. Image: Scewo Official Website

The students wrote on their website, “The same electric wheelchairs were sold to disabled people for years, whereas everything else like smartphones, electric cars, drones, even robotic vacuum cleaners improved.”

Scewo-Back-Safe-Mode-uai-1032x774

Image: Scewo Official Website

This new kind of wheelchair, dubbed “Project Scewo,” has been in development since 2014. It combines Segway-style self-balancing technology with rubbery tracks to navigate difficult terrain, like loose gravel and slippery surfaces.

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Stairs with an incline of 17 to 34 degrees as well as spiral stairs will also be made accessible to the physically challenged.

The website also shows that the rubber tracks and a pair of support wheels can be used to elevate the user to a certain height that would allow face-to-face interactions with a standing person.

For the time being, the prototype is still undergoing upgrades to make it safer, more robust and easier to manufacture. They inventors hope to have a mass-production model ready by next year. They are currently trying to raise funds for the project through Patreon.

Nimble robotic limbs for the mass market may still need a couple more decades to develop. So while we wait for that, it’s refreshing that someone took notice of an existing piece of technology and give it a much-needed upgrade for the more immediate betterment of the lives of the physically challenged.  Alfred Bayle /ra

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TAGS: electric wheelchair, rubber tracks, stairs, wheelchair
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