Off-road Power Wheelchair (OPW)

Problem:

Robby contacted us about his “idea for a power wheelchair”:

“I was wondering if it could be possible to build an off road power wheelchair that could go on anything and have a decent amount of speed with a range of up to 50-100 miles on one charge. if it can, could it be made for 300+ person?”

Analysis:

I asked for some clarifications:

“You brought up an interesting idea and question.  The short answer is yes.  But at what costs and time-frame?  After reading your brief message, I have a few questions:

1) “an off road power wheelchair that could go on anything”
Are you looking for something that is able to traverse desert terrains, wet terrains, mountainous terrains, forested terrains, etc.?  These considerations will affect the total weight of the wheelchair.

2) “decent amount of speed”
Most power wheelchairs on the US market operate at 0 to about 3 miles per hour.  Because of the instability of many power wheelchair designs, it is not recommended to replace current motors with more powerful ones.  However, it is possible to design a more stable structure in which a more powerful motor may be used.  Number-wise, what is a “decent amount of speed”?

3) “range of up to 50-100 miles on one charge”
This will be determined by many factors including answers to the two questions above.

4) “if it can, could it be made for 300+ persons”
I’m assuming that you are asking about 300+ power wheelchairs as described.  Once a design has been determined, much of the time needed for procurement of parts and assembly depends on the number of parts that must be custom made.

5) A question that was not mentioned but is of interest to us is the type of control(s) that will be needed for the power wheelchairs under consideration.  As you know, power wheelchairs are used by a wide range of users with different abilities.  Their abilities determine the type of controls that may be appropriate.  For example, many power wheelchairs in the US market use joysticks as the control device.  However, joysticks are NOT appropriate for use by people with high-level spinal cord injuries (high-level quadriplegia).”

 See our next post: OPW — Clarifications and Design Plans.

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