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 actually myself am fascinated by the potential of ocean waves and power and can't wait to see someone start harnessing that"
Elizabeth, actually in my place they had started a power generation unit from tidal waves, but later they found that it's not economical due to various reasons and winded up. Still the reason is unknown to public.
Oops, sorry! I misunderstood your comment, MyDesign. Of course you're right! Renewables are the way to go. I actually myself am fascinated by the potential of ocean waves and power and can't wait to see someone start harnessing that. (I'm a surfer...so this is a natural interest of mine!) Forgive me for my confusion...
"but "only"? What about wind? Especially with all of the new inventions in harnessing wind offshore and in cities...I've written a couple of stories about the latter and also just covered the deployment of the first offshore wind turbine (but the story hasn't posted yet)."
Elizebeth, "only" means only natural/renewable resources. It includes wind, solar, Hydro electric projects etc.
Thanks for sharing that personal story, bobjengr. It's always good to hear how the technology can affect someone in a real-life situation. For someone like your friend this would be perfect--it seems like he does not need a lot of battery power and is in the sun most of the time anyway, so the chair could always use its solar setting. Hopefully this will go from a student project to a commercial design at some point.
Good question, Debera, I have to admit I'm not sure about the chairs of the wheelchair. If a typical wheelchair's wheels fold I would tend to say yes, and I believe they tried to model it on a typical chair...but I am not positive on that. I would have to check.
I agree with you that it's promising, MyDesign, but "only"? What about wind? Especially with all of the new inventions in harnessing wind offshore and in cities...I've written a couple of stories about the latter and also just covered the deployment of the first offshore wind turbine (but the story hasn't posted yet).
Check out these links and tell me what you think about the promise of wind? :)
"It seems that many student design teams are studying alternative energy projects. I suppose this is because of their popularity and appeal among younger people, and also the opportunity to learn about more complex systems with many parts. Excellent educational opportunity."
Apresher, I think now a day's most of the educational systems are adaptive to nature and students are keen in explore further to it. Solar energy is the only promising energy source for the future and hence developments are happening for extracting more energy at verity of application levels.
It seems that many student design teams are studying alternative energy projects. I suppose this is because of their popularity and appeal among younger people, and also the opportunity to learn about more complex systems with many parts. Excellent educational opportunity.
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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