As I said earlier, I’ll be writing an update on the wheelchair project I have going on. If you are interested, welcome to my brain. If you are looking for deep thoughts, this might not be the right post for you.
To the left here is a Permobil power chair, front wheel drive, “indoor/outdoor”. Permobil is one of the frontrunner companies in the wheelchair business here in the US, and their products aren’t bad at all. If you weren’t crazy like me, this wheelchair would be fine for you.
But you aren’t me. And I look at it and see front wheel drive, front heavy center of gravity, 5 mph top speed. You know what the big highlight for the modern version of a permobil is? Specialized patent pending suspension arms for reduced vibration. This thing is steel and heavy, but they put solid tires on it and then work on suspension. You ever drive on a donut tire? You remember how rough that rides??? Yeah, that’s why you have to patent pend a new suspension system.
In the meantime, look at the suspension on a Mercedes F1 car.
It is sleek, refined, shaped, lightweight, and corners at over 100mph. Remember this statement: F1 cars are made out of carbon fiber and race at over 200mph, and pull up to 5 Gs over the course of the race. That wheelchair is made of steel and has a top speed of 5mph and pulls no Gs.
Ok, it’s also cheaper to make. There is no market for wheelchairs that is strong enough to drive change. More cars are sold per year than wheelchairs, and there isn’t an investment in it. This is the reality of modern society – too many people that need wheelchairs are more than happy to be issued what insurance will pay for because we want things for free. Too many people then adapt their lives around their wheelchair, instead of the wheelchair around their lives. This leads to stagnation, and frankly, a blatant disregard (known or unknown) of human beings that aren’t fully productive to society. Again, they might not know they are projecting this, but they are. To me, at least, I feel discarded by the majority of society (not you out there in reader-land, I love you and appreciate all your prayers!)
So I’m angling to change it. FDA approval processes are laughably bureaucratically ridiculous. The work around? It’s not a wheelchair, it’s a personal mobility device. It’s not in demand enough for companies to change the way they do business? Marketing. Make it beautiful. Make it “luxury”. Make it so that rich guy down the road wants to have a BMW of wheelchairs and not a Chevy impala.
To that end, I’m designing and marketing a carbon fiber framed, lithium powered wheelchair. I got the idea from this dude in the UK who engineered and built his own, so I have the electronics. But he used steel tubing from another wheelchair, and it’s still not as light as it could be.
Looks pretty cool though.
So, now that I’ve ranted a bit, I’m going to share who I am going to reach out to. I am looking to partner with auto manufacturers because they have the expertise with both battery tech and carbon fiber tech. But……..
I’ve reached out to a lot of expert companies, and I haven’t heard back save from two. I’m not giving up though. I intend to design this shape and then find a carbon fiber fabricator to build. Then, using parts from other things, build the rest. It’s going to take and investment. There are fabricators in both NC and SC that make racecars – I’m hoping they’ll help me. And yes, any company that helps design and build this gets to have their logo/advertising on both the chair and the driver (high end sports cars like Audi or “Bob’s Grille”, whoever is willing to help!)
But, reader-land, what do you think – the tube style body like above? Or a monocoque style “tub” style used with F1 cars (example to the right.)
The Monocoque is harder to do. but it looks cooler, and you can add in details that would make the chair look a little different, more beautiful.
Think, the picture above or…….
I’m also going to pursue a sponsorship from a major extreme sports brand. I scoured their site and didn’t see a single disabled athlete – if I can’t find one, I intend to be the first. While I still can, I will race go-karts and hope for the sponsorship to fund the wheelchair that looks gorgeous.
Thanks for letting me ramble about my personal white whale. I will bless the Lord if I end up in any wheelchair but I also know it’s ok to want to pursue improvement. So I will.
Tomorrow I have a short post about a hero of mine that will go anonymous.