Of the 1.5 million Americans who use manual wheel chairs, roughly 600,000 are working age adults. Despite significant design improvements in the last few decades, commercially available wheelchairs still lack the ability to provide users safe and affordable off-road accessibility. Typical wheelchair users are unable to access mountain trails and other off-road paths without significant after-market alterations or enduring hazardous passages with frequent assistance from others.
The wheel chair manufacturing industry has historically been dominated by large manufacturing firms. The firms have primarily focused the development of their “sport” chairs to increase speed and maneuverability on hard surfaces. Currently, no marketplace offerings exist for a manual chair that was designed for extensive off-road usage. Wheelchair users must either use aftermarket alteration or powered chairs whose design and performance typically resemble small all-terrain vehicles. A manual off-road wheelchair would provide users the ability to travel in limited access areas with increased independence. The goal of this project is to design and prototype a wheelchair for off-road use.
This project is a part of the capstone design course in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. The project team has been selected and we have developed an aggressive project plan to ensure adequate time for building and testing. The plan is driven by our goal to test a prototype by the end of November. Our project is funded by solely by individual donations.