When a location lacks wheelchair accessibility it can be a highly frustrating experience, and one that often makes it remarkably hard for disabled people to maintain independence. Enter this all-electricScalevo wheelchair, which can climb and descend stairs using a set of retractable tracks. Scalevo was designed by a team of 10 students from ETH Zurich, and it provides smooth mobility for the user with a Segway-like two-wheeled system.
The two wheel set up of the Scalevo not only makes for a smoother ride, but also provides greater agility and the ability to make quick, sharp turns. When the wheelchair reaches stairs the user can press a button to lower the twin rubber tracks. These tracks then automatically align with the stairs, measuring the incline with the use of sensors; a piston-driven system then adjusts the level of the wheelchair’s seat so as the driver remains in a normal seating position relative to the stairs. This system of tracks and sensors is also able to identify and navigate obstacles, providing the wheelchair user with additional independence.
The ETH students have developed and tested their first prototype—it’s pretty slow on the stairs at present, but they hope to reach a speed of one-step-per-second. The prototype meanwhile will be used in next year’s Cybathlon, an ETH-sponsored race for disabled athletes.