Electric Wheelchairs and the Challenges of the Outdoors

Earlier this semester, we got to carry out a “wheelchair” lab where we moved around campus in wheelchairs.  There was one electric wheelchair available for us to try if we wanted to, and it sparked a debate about whether electric wheelchairs are actually any better than manual chairs.  Certainly, users of electric wheelchairs face challenges that aren’t immediately obvious, such as what happens when the battery dies, or the challenge of going offroad.

A gentleman near where I’m originally from sought to fix what he saw as a problem for people in electric wheelchairs – namely, that going offroad is nearly impossible. How he chose to solve it is another story entirely – basically, he built a wheelchair tank.  While incredibly impractical to use indoors, this beast of a chair has gotten numerous combat veterans and formerly active people back outdoors where they would like to be.

I’ve linked several videos as well as the website of the chair below, and will let them speak for themselves.  I personally think that it’s a very impressive chair and have used one several times myself when given an opportunity.  What’s most important is that it is helping people get back to doing what they love, though, and it definitely does that when it comes to being outdoors.

The website for the chair: http://actiontrackchair.com/Default.aspx

A playlist of the chair in action and the press that it has gotten:

I think these things are really cool, and actually tried to intern for the company at one point – unfortunately most of the mechanical design work is done, and now the company is mostly dealing with logistics issues, such as providing these chairs at affordable prices.


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