In the course of developing personal mobility platforms, we should be taking into account individuals with handicaps. Just as modern legislation requires facilities to assist people with disabilities, we need to see more innovations that cater to their needs. The Korean Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) presents a motorized wheelchair that can tackle various situational challenges.

Despite the remarkable breakthroughs by those in the medical field, some illnesses and injuries can affect our range of movement. People who lose control over their lower extremities have no choice but to rely on assistive devices like a wheelchair to get around.

Thus. the prototype from KIMM appears promising as it is capable of more than just movement. Unless there is a ramp or elevator in place, stairs become a huge obstacle for the wheelchair-bound. Therefore, a solution presented by the team at KIMM is to incorporate functions that would enhance overall mobility.

Design-wise, the prototype opts for a retractable module with a pair of rubber tracks. Once deployed, these grip the edges of each step as the seat maintains a horizontal position. Furthermore, straps secure the waist and legs of the user to prevent them from slipping when they change posture or position. It was not indicated if the system uses hydraulics, pneumatics, or actuators.

Nonetheless, it can safely hold the seating module in a standing, reclined, or seated configuration. KIMM also takes into account the shift in weight during these transitions, which is why the frame is engineered with a low center of gravity. This way, the base should maintain stability even while the wheelchair is in motion. This is a promising concept that could make life easier for those with disabilities.

Learn more

Images courtesy of Korean Institute of Machinery and Materials