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Student Team Designs Solar-Powered Wheelchair

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Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Good use of solar power
Elizabeth M   6/5/2013 4:07:31 AM
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Thanks, MyDesign. I do find these stories some of the more interesting ones to cover as well. I've written about energy-harvesting soccer balls for underdeveloped nations and mobile app-driven prosthetic legs that help amputees get some of their normal lives back for Design News...this is the kind of stuff that shows some of the true promise of technology.

Debera Harward
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Silver
Re: Good use of solar power
Debera Harward   6/5/2013 4:50:50 AM
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Ahan Elizebeth that really great it feels very good watching young engineers inventing such technologies .Solar power wheel chair is simply very creative idea it helps give patients mobility but i have one question ? Are these wheel chairs folding if yes then it is very easy to use them during travelling if no it will be very difficult for user to buy another one for the purpose of travelling .

AREV
User Rank
Gold
Re: Good use of solar power
AREV   6/5/2013 8:35:02 AM
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A photo of the retracted panels would be good. As viewed it looks like an erector set project.(As an Erector Set past user this is not detrimental ccmment.)  That would all be aceptable if the panels and frame colapse into the foot print of a wheel chair as a retractable car roof does. Good application of Solar. My opinion this would be a good starting point for the size of an electric car. Add only what is necessary from there to achieve distance, weather protection, speed, etc. Imagine a auditorium parking lot with hundreds of wheel chair sized vehicles.

Battar
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Platinum
Material science
Battar   6/5/2013 8:54:49 AM
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This is an exercise in material science, not electrical engineering. Using solar power to keep batteries charged in a mobile device is hardly news. But for this device to be practical it has to out in the sun (and rain, sometimes) to ensure a constant charging supply, and it has to not fall to pieces on the 1st of September after the raindrops have trickled through the non-stainless steel screws and the sunshine has baked the non-UV resistant plastics.

Weatherproofing the device is the bigger challenge.

AREV
User Rank
Gold
Re: Material science
AREV   6/5/2013 10:00:07 AM
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I'd define it as this chair has to be whereever the operator is and wants to be. It has to navigate like a normal chair but with the advantage that when out and about it is self sufficantly powering itself, increasing the range, speed, and thus the self sufficancy of the operator.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Blogger
Better Direction yields better results
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   6/5/2013 1:38:50 PM
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Recall the article from just 2 weeks ago, where "Brilliant Gadgets from the Hands of the Young" yielded several comments about redirecting un-mentored innovation into more productive results.  (  http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1362&doc_id=263652 )

This "Change My World in One Minute" competition is exactly what I was suggesting.  Although' I didn't catch who sponsored the competition.  The Cerebral Palsy Foundation-?  An unlikely Champion of the mentorship effort!

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Material science
Elizabeth M   6/6/2013 4:20:31 AM
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Excellent points, Battar. I think you'd be right about the weatherproofing. Maybe in a future design this problem could be tackled. I think maybe because the user is in Turkey, rain wouldn't be such a big issue? Seems to be a lot more sun than rain in that country...but I'm sure it's still a concern.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Better Direction yields better results
Elizabeth M   6/6/2013 4:27:54 AM
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Yes, JimT, the contest was sponsored by a foundation for cerebral palsy--yes, it may seem unlikely but in some of the writing I've done I've found it is the people who have a medical need who actually are inspiring innovation these days. I wrote a story about an MIT program that paired doctors with students to come up with medical devices to solve real problems they encounter: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=259900

So it may seem unlikely but perhaps sometimes it's the best way to develop targeted technology that can be put to practical use.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Blogger
Re: Better Direction yields better results
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   6/6/2013 8:36:11 AM
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Thanks, Elizabeth- you are being subtle saying sometimes it's the best way.  Recall the old adage, 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention'.  I think the best ideas always come from a direct need, or targeted challenge.  Too many good designers are locked into company jobs, supporting corporate mandates to simply update a product line. That gets stale.

bobjengr
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Platinum
SOLAR POWER
bobjengr   6/6/2013 5:14:17 PM
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Excellent post Elizabeth.  I have a dear friend (fellow engineer) with Parkinson's disease.   He is confined to a wheelchair and loves to go outside to sit in the sun. Most of his day is involved with "motoring" to the mail box and back.  The application of solar power to his chair would be a great addition to that device. He definitely will get your article.    I love the retractable panel idea.   I think the students have hit on a great idea.  Thanks again for posting. 

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