Wheelchair Can Roll in Any Direction
Here’s a nice example of designers combining existing concepts and improving them in the process. Engineers at Kyoto University in Japan have created a next-generation wheelchair equipped with wheels that can move in any direction. The Personal Mobility Vehicle has been dubbed Permoveh.
The Permoveh’s wheels consist of 32 rollers that allow the chair to move back and forth, side to side, and rotate in a complete circle. This would give wheelchair users the ability to navigate in tighter spaces.
As you can see in the video below, the rollers are positioned within the wheel frame to allow the sideways motion. The team designed the wheels, which they think may also have some utility in manufacturing and conveyor applications.
The current prototype is expensive (around $36,000) and slow (top speed of 3.7 mph), but lead researcher Masaharu Komori (a mechanical engineering professor) hopes to make it lighter and more compact while cutting the cost by two-thirds.
You can see a video of the chair below: