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Advanced Powered Wheelchair Systems

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Student Designers: Nathan Armstrong, Matt Carlson, Nathan Ip, Sunho Baik, Kenneth Roggow, Fred Tsai, Jared Van Dam (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Conceptual seat design
Conceptual seat design

This project designs around viewing powered wheelchairs as a set of interconnected systems. Alternative solutions are being tested to improve the range, weight, and safety of current models. The methods tested include an internal combustion engine, a system of hydraulics, and advanced control system. An engine provides an alternate power source, extends the range of wheelchairs, and reduces weight. The hydraulic system transmits power to all suspension and steering actuators, as well as a hydraulic motor that propels the wheelchair. The control system involves an IQAN controller area network to integrate the power and hydraulic components with user and sensor input to satisfy a variety of user requirements. Using this design process allows for the evaluation of these alternative systems for powered wheelchairs.


System design and application of design science is needed to develop and evaluate alternative powered wheelchair systems to address improvements in power and range, reduced weight, integrated control systems, enhanced wheelchair dynamics including stability, and safety, including occupant protection. The set of systems comprising a powered wheelchair were considered together so that the solutions would cover a broader range of problems. The separation of these systems by functionality resulted in the following: frame and suspension, power, control, seating, and safety and usability.

For full story, visit Advanced Powered Wheelchair System