The ordinary wheelchair allows disabled persons to move around without going through much, however, the range of terrain that these wheelchairs can negotiate is limited. Using it to move on beach, trails and even some parks can prove to be a bad experience. That is where the GRIT Freedom Chair comes in; it has been designed for recreational use by imparting all-terrain capabilities and is comparatively cheap among its competitors.
It stands out from the competition since it is unpowered and makes use of hand movement for its operational power. The idea for the all-terrain wheelchair was conceived about 5 years ago by some students of MIT. Now that the MIT students have been able to fund Global Research Innovation and Technology (GRIT), they are bringing the all-terrain chair to US with the name of Freedom Chair.
Students have worked with wheelchair users for the last two years, refining the design and making necessary amendments. Special attention was given to the need for it to be collapsible while making use of bicycle parts so that the repair of wheelchair is easy. Freedom wheelchair uses a lever-based and geared drive train for the conversion of arm power into motion. The top of the lever allows for a 3:1 gear ratio for a 50% increase in torque as compared to pushing the rims of the chair. When the lever is held closer from the base, the gear ratio becomes 1:1 giving faster speed that is 75% higher than a conventional wheelchair. Brakes can be applied by pulling the levers back.
The wheelchair has been built out of a 4130 chromoly steel frame measuring 48 inches from end to end while incorporating the quick release mountain bike wheels of 26 inches in collaboration with 1.75-inch hybrid tires. The front wheel of 8.75-inches is made of solid rubber and enables stability. The wheelchair can manage a person weighing up to 220lbs and comes with a cushioned seat and footrest that can be adjusted as per the user’s needs.
GRIT has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds with the lowest price being $2,195 while the regular price is $2,995. The campaign has already met its $50,000 goal and the company is busy in developing additional features now. If the funding raises more than $100,000 then the company will be including snow and sand tires to the mix as well.
Freedom Chair is planned to be delivered in May 2015.