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This New Wheelchair Makes Avoiding Staircases A Thing Of The Past

May 31, 2015
In early 2013, mechanical engineering students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland were gathered and told about their focus projects. These projects are to be done and completed during the last year of the students' studies and are done to serve as an application project for all they have learned. Often, students of electrical engineering at the same school and industrial design students from Industrial Design at Zurich University of the Arts eventually join these projects.

The focus project selected by a group of seven mechanical engineer students was the original idea of Beni Winter who wanted to create a robot that climbed stairs. Eventually, the idea morphed into a wheelchair and was accepted by their instructors. The group then presented the idea at other colleges and added one electrical engineer and two industrial designers. The group began work in summer 2014. The goal was to make an easy-to-use, lightweight and reliable wheelchair that can climb stairs.

In 10 months, the group has created a wheelchair that is electrically powered and has the ability to balance on two wheels while on solid ground. When climbing the stairs, though, a set of tracks that work like a Segway scooter are lowered dynamically so that the user still stays level at all times.
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