Intelligent Mobility: Re-Cycling to Build Wheelchairs

California Institute of Technology, 2007 - $19,000

There are approximately twenty million people in the developing world who require a wheelchair to be mobile, but only one percent of those people actually have their own chairs. Even these chairs are second-hand most of the time and aren't suited to the rugged, off-road terrain often found in developing countries. As a result, many disabled people rely on their family members for support or resort to begging in order to live.To combat the problem, this team has founded a non-profit, Intelligent Mobility, to produce and distribute safe, durable, and affordable wheelchairs made primarily from old bicycles. The pedal axles on the bike are converted to rear-wheel axles on the chair, the pedals themselves are used for both the footrests and front caster assembly, the x-brace is cut from the metal on the back end of the bike frame, and the handle bars are used as push handles. The team believes this design makes for a less expensive, more durable, and more appropriate wheelchair for the developing world. It also takes less time to make than a standard wheelchair--about one-sixth of the current production time.