WHILL Transforms Wheelchairs into Electric Vehicles

| December 14, 2011 | Comments

One generally associates electric wheelchairs with people who are physically immobile on their own because they don’t have full use of their arms and legs. But wouldn’t an electric wheelchair be just as useful for someone who is old, and therefore, can’t walk fast or for long distances?

WHILL, a Japanese company recently unveiled its mobility solution at the Tokyo Motor Show. Imagine a headset-shaped gadget- much larger of course- that can be clamped on to the external surface of a conventional wheelchair’s wheels. So instead of over-the-ear earphones, these discs are fitted over the wheels.

Just as in case of a headset, where the band that goes over one’s head connects the two earphones, the connector connects these two discs and sits like a protective belt in front of the person sitting on the wheelchair. If you haven’t still been able to visualise what this looks like, visit the WHILL site for more images and information.

Each disc has a 24 volt motor that is powered by a Lithium ion battery. When the unit is witched on, these motors turn the wheels, enabling the wheelchair to move. Apparently, there is enough juice in the battery to propel the wheelchair at a top speed of 20 Km per hour. On a full charge, the battery has a range of about 30 Km.

It takes two hours for the battery to charge fully; but that’s a relatively small price to pay for both the person using the wheelchair and the caregivers who may otherwise have to push the wheelchair around.

This is still in prototype stage, and WHILL is looking for users to test the device in the field before they tweak the design for commercial production. At this time, therefore, there are no indications of price.





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