And now, thanks to a group of ambitious students, there’s a wheelchair that can climb stairs -- no problem.
The Scalevo Wheelchair is the brainchild of 10 Zurich students studying mechanical and electrical engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and industrial design at the Zurich University of the Arts, according to the group’s website.
Initially, ETH student Beni Winter set out to construct a robot that could climb stairs and film, according to the group’s blog. But after meeting with a professor, he and his team members refined the idea for the university project to invent a wheelchair that can ascend stairs.
Last summer, the group gave itself a 10-month deadline to build a chair modeled after a Segway system. It balances on two wheels and climbs using two rubber tracks that are mounted to the bottom of the chair.
Eventually, the innovators hope for the chair to be able to reach one step per second.
This could be wheelchair-users long-awaited solution if the prototype actually goes to market.
Back in 2009, the iBot, the U.S.’s first stair-climbing wheelchair was discontinued.
The Johnson & Johnson product was expensive, and required users to have use of at least one arm, and some upper body control, according to the Associated Press.
"If I ever had to get out of this chair, I really don't know if I'd want to live anymore, to be honest with you," Alan T. Brown, who is mostly paralyzed from the chest down, told the AP of how he valued the iBot. "Guys in these chairs ... we might be disabled now, but then we'd really become disabled."