A student team at the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science designed a solar-powered wheelchair that won first place in the 2012 World Cerebral Palsy Day "Change My World in One Minute" competition. The chair is powered by a retractable solar panels at the top that can work even in cloudy conditions and were inspired by the retractable roofs on convertible automobiles. (Source: University of Virginia)
"Alternative energy sources are a given. But a redundant source will only add to the cost and somehow negates the purpose of solar energy's autonomy, don't you think? "
Far911, am not able to follow exactly. I hope you meant about exploring the alternate energy sources. Solar energy won't be available throughout the year, so in such cases we have to explore the other sources like wind/ sea waves (tidal) etc.
@Elizabeth M - True. Batteries are certainly serving as an alternative. However, the solar cell batteries should be sophisticated enough to provide long backup times in order to retain autonomy of this power source.
I will keep track, MyDesign, and write updates as warranted. Actually I was just visiting friends north of Porto here in Portugal, where I live, and my friend's father told me there is a project off the coast of Portugal doing something with waves. Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but I am going to look into it.
"Really? Interesting. I actually wrote about a company that said it can do something like that and are working on technology. http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=262437 I have no idea how they are going to use this fabric to harness ocean waves but I guess we'll see!"
Elizabeth, thanks for the link. Hope you will update with the latest details soon.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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