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)
I like to cover these stories when they show inventive people coming up with creative uses of technology that can help people, too. Solar power is becoming more viable for many uses and this one is certainly interesting. It is a positive way to use a renewable energy and also adds a bit of a comfort benefit for the wheelchair user, providing shade from the sun from which its absorbing energy. I especailly like that the team is donating both the chair and the winnings for more altruistic causes.
What a great application for solar panels. Thanks for reporting on this, Elizabeth. And it's good to see progress made in using solar power for transportation, even though it's still combined with another energy source.
It is great to see such advancement taking place in the field of renewable energy. At first, I was doubting that how can the current produced from panels be sufficient for the wheel chair. The utilization of both the battery and solar panels cleared my doubt.
Although, the wheel chair running totally on solar panels, with 0 % battery is a bit hard to believe. There might be something more to it. Nonetheless, It is always great to hear about such news.
"Solar power is becoming an increasingly popular source of energy, and researchers have found a way to use it to power"
Elizebath, now a day's more R&D at technology and application levels are happening with respect to solar energy. I think we can replace almost all powering sources at application level by solar energy by equipping a PV panel and a storage device along with necessary commuting circuits.
It's a great invention. The very idea of mobility combined with solar energy makes perfect sense. Although I'm concerned about how well this will play out in areas where the sun scarcely shines, still it'll be sure to help a long way. And think about it, it can serve as shelter for rain too, heh.
"The very idea of mobility combined with solar energy makes perfect sense. Although I'm concerned about how well this will play out in areas where the sun scarcely shines, still it'll be sure to help a long way. And think about it, it can serve as shelter for rain too"
Far911, in such cases you can think about hybrid energy sources. I mean along with solar, you can deploy either wind energy or rain harvesting mechanism , to turn the wheels.
I think that's why there are batteries as well, far911, so that should help augment when there is no solar energy. But even under cloud cover I think some solar panels can still absorv and use solar energy. And yes, the panels can also serve as an umbrella!
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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