A team of students at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science mesmerized one and all at the World Cerebral Palsy Day’s “Change My World in One Minute” competition with the solar-powered wheelchair they had developed. Drawing inspiration from the design of retractable roof of a convertible car, the chair has been designed with retractable panels on top. The wheelchair is made from tough and lightweight materials and is caped with custom-made solar panels that do not add to the width or length of the wheelchair in anyway and do not interfere when the wheelchair is stored. The wheelchair design won the students a $20,000 first prize at the competition.
The wheelchair, when fully charged can run almost for 4.5 hours at top speed of 5mph, however solar panels increase the range of the wheelchair by over 40% as compared to a wheelchair operating just on battery. What is really interesting is that the wheelchair can run at a speed of 1mph independently on solar power (without using battery). The solar panels have been designed to charge batteries even under cloudy environment.
The students have made operating the wheelchair really simple, a joystick onboard can fully operate the chair. Along with the uniqueness of solar panels atop, the wheelchair also features USB power outlets which can power a phone, tablet or any other portable gadget using solar power. The solar-powered wheelchair makes provision for all standard facilities of a normal wheelchair i.e. armrests, footrest, seatbelt and adjustable chair. Hit the jump to see the Wheelchair in action.
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