Wheelchairs are a concept that is centuries old, and a lot of innovation has happened in this product. Now we can find all sorts of wheelchairs, not only powered wheelchairs are available, but chairs for riding on rough terrains or even for climbing stairs have moved to the market to make maneuvering for people easier. A wheelchair that is powered needs to be waterproof essentially, and scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) did just that. The incredible waterproof chair is even powered by compressed air.
Engineers at HERL had developed a prototype wheelchair that was powered by compressed air for which the Sports Outdoor and Recreation group (SOAR) contacted the lab. SOAR is a non-profit organization looking after a theme park in San Antonio, Texas for people with disabilities. The group required mobility for a splash park at the venue called Morgan’s Inspiration Island.
The HERL researchers’ air-powered PneuChair is just the solution for something like a splash park. The chair is equipped with onboard air tanks, so there is no need to worry about water in any electronics. The design is extremely simple and takes only 10 minutes to recharge using an air compressor. The short recharging time of the chair is its greatest advantage as compared to conventional battery powered wheelchairs that take hours to charge completely.
The short recharging time of the chair is its most significant advantage as compared to conventional battery powered wheelchairs that take hours in charging the battery. On the downside, the PneuChair has a range of only three miles (4.8 km) which is about one-third of the conventional battery powered chair. The chair comes with another scooter variant as well.
The University is planning to license the technology to be used in places like personal care homes, shopping venues, grocery stores, and airports. Meanwhile, 10 chairs will be made available to customers at the Morgan’s Inspiration Island which is due to open later this spring.