Mobility – Three young students and designers at ETH Zürich and ZhdK developed a self-balancing wheelchair that can go up and down the stairs independently. The Scewo electric prototype combines wheels and tanks-alike tracks with an active control systems which keeps the chair level and stable at every moment.
Users can either use the joystick or a shift in body weight to control the chair. The wheels allow to overcome obstacles like curbs, tram tracks, grass, mud or stones so that the wheelchair can turn on spot and is very agile while driving around.
Stairs are climbed up sitting backward and driven down in the forward position. The rubber tracks adapt to the angle of the stair automatically and keep the user level at all times. The transfers onto the stair and back to the floor are automated.
“Our goal is to combine the new technologies and an aesthetic design to develop a new generation wheelchair. It will give back enjoyable and flexible mobility to those in need and let’s them engage wherever life takes them”. Say ETH Zurich mechanical engineers Bernhard Winter and Pascal Buholzer and ZHdK Industrial Designer Thomas Gemperle.
The Safe Mode is used to transfer to the Scewo chair, getting below a table and for standing still. It is also possible to drive forwards and backwards during this mode. When in the Elevated Mode, the tracks and the small wheels at the back can be lowered together below the main wheel to rise the seat up. This enables eye-to-eye communication and reaching of higher lying objects.
To overcome slippery surfaces like snow or loose gravel, bigger obstacles or steep inclines the tracks can be lowered to the ground for increased traction. “We are planning to bring the Scewo prototype to market as soon as we finished our studies. That’s why we started a crowd funding campaign to help accelerate the development”. Add the designers.
All images by ©Scewo.