Off-Road Wheelchair Features Hybrid Engine And GPS
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 26, 2006
KARLSRUHE, GERMANY--It looks kind of like a golf cart with a bucket seat bolted to it.
But the creators of the Superfourin say it just might be the first in a future of all-terrain wheelchairs.
The four-wheel drive wheelchair is essentially a modified all-terrain vehicle (ATV) with wide profile tires, halogen headlights, and a central steering system that allows it to turn in extremely small circles, according to a press statement from the designers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing.
The Superfourin's off-road design is complemented by a hybrid engine, along with electronic on-board "intelligence", to make the vehicle easily navigate the rugged outdoors and even climb 40 degree inclines.
Another new feature that the inventors say will help outdoor wheelchair enthusiasts be more independent than ever is its vehicle communication and control system. This is basically a global positioning system (GPS) monitor -- similar to the popular "On-Star" system -- connected to a set of sensors that track the user's heart and breathing rate, and notify rescue workers if the person's vital signs are at dangerous levels, or if the wheelchair flips over.
"This opens up a new market targeted towards the physically disabled and their families," the institute's Dr. Andreas Wenzel told Gizmag.com. "With its versatility, the all-terrain wheelchair can drive over snow-covered mountains, mud flats and sand dunes."
The designers did not indicate when the Superfourin might go into production, or how much it might cost when it hits the market.
The four-wheel drive hybrid wheelchair" (Gizmag.com)
Photo of Supertourin (Gizmag.com)
Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing