Engineer creates slick omnidirectional wheelchair for the handicapped

Mar 27, 2012
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Wheelchairs are the only way some people are able to be independent. People that simply lack the stamina to walk or suffer from some sort of injury that resulted in inability to stand or walk often find themselves bound to a wheelchair as their only way to get around. A professor of mechanical engineering from Japan has unveiled a new wheelchair design called the willPersonal Mobile Vehicle is able to move in any direction.

Power wheelchairs are common today and they move forward and backwards typically using a joystick for control, but can't move diagonally. Current modern chairs need to spin in order to allow the person using the chair to go left or right. Masaharu Komori, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Kyoto University, designed a new wheelchair that has rollers within traditional wheels. When the chair user wants to go forward or backwards, the larger wheels spin like a traditional wheelchair for motivation.

However, when the user wants to go diagonally, 32 smaller rollers inside those traditional larger wheels activate and allow the user to move left or right without needing the space to spin the chair. The user can also move diagonally and in that instance the larger wheels and the rollers work in conjunction. The prototype vehicle cost over $36,000 to produce. Professor Komori plans to work on the device and has an eventual target price of $12,000 putting it roughly on par with modern power wheelchairs.

[via Physorg]


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