Off-road Wheelchair to Get Speed Boost

When they’re not designing clean vehicles of the future, the EcoCAR Challenge team is helping their fellow students at Michigan Technological University (MTU) change the world in other ways.

As part of their senior design project, six fellow students at MTU designed and built an all-terrain vehicle that makes the outdoors accessible to wheelchair-bound people. The working prototype is about 75% of the way toward being a production chair.

The advisor to the six-person senior design team is also the advisor to the EcoCAR Challenge team, and he suggested that they lend their expertise to help finish the project.

The “off-road wheelchair” consists of a race car seat, off-road tracks, a standard wheelchair joystick and two marine batteries. The batteries last up to two hours. The EcoCAR team, which started by using Powertrain System Analysis Toolkit (PSAT) modeling (the vehicle simulation tool introduced to the team through the EcoCAR Challenge), is now preparing to make the necessary physical changes to the vehicle. When their work is done, the team intends to bump up the speed of the vehicle, add quick change batteries and install instrumentation for educational purposes.

Stay tuned to Inside the Green Garage in the coming months for an update on the team’s progress. For more information on the current vehicle, please check out this news story too.

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