Independence is an important part of living life and conventional vehicles have been being modified towards this purpose for years. From ramps, lifts, and stowage systems to wheelchair accessible vehicles, being mobile is within reach.
Many disabled people find modified conventional vehicles to be difficult to use safely. But with technology moving at such a fast pace, having a vehicle that is perfectly designed for independent travel with wheelchairs could be just around the corner. Although ideas for paratransit fleets and taxis came first with the design of the MV-1 and the Concept V1, innovators have also been designing directly for wheelchair users to be in the driver’s seat.
Kenguru. The Kenguru was co-founded by Stacy Zoern, a wheelchair user herself. It was created from the ground up with the needs of the physically disabled person in mind. With the push of a button, the back door opens. You can roll in, dock your wheelchair, and drive away. Steering bar resembles that of a motorcycle or scooter for ease of use. This vehicle is electric and will be great for city driving. In the US it will be manufactured to fit both manual and electric wheelchairs.
EQUAL. A small company in Croatia designed the EQUAL. It is an electric vehicle with a colorful, sporty look and an optional removable storage box located on the back of the car. Easy rear entry system allows the wheel chair user to simply roll in, dock, and drive. Interior of the vehicle is ergonomically designed and has an adjustable steering wheel with a spinner knob for one hand steering. A hand control device is used for acceleration and breaking.
Road Chariot. This wheelchair motorcycle is being designed in the US. It has a 4 cylinder gas engine and travels at a speed up to 60 mph (100 km/hr). Rear entry system is an automatic ramp, which allows the driver to roll on for driving. It comes with seatbelts appropriate for slower city travel but the designer recommends having your own docking system installed for freeway travel. It has plenty of space for storage or to easily install a passenger seat behind the driver.
Although these vehicles are not readily available yet, it is clear that designers have the needs of physically disabled drivers in mind. Comfortable, safe, independent travel is just around the corner.
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