In the rural areas of developing countries, traveling long-distances over rough terrain is often an essential aspect of going to school or maintaining a livelihood. While people who are able-bodied often walk or bike over these distances, people who use wheelchairs face more of a challenge. Traditional wheelchairs usually cannot easily travel over rough or diverse terrain, and repair is often expensive, or not possible locally. In the developing world, there are forty million people who need a wheelchair but don’t have one.
In the TED talk below, Amos Winter, an MIT engineer, explains how he and his team designed a “cheap all-terrain wheelchair” specifically for use in rural areas of developing countries. His device travels speedily over rough and diverse land and uses the same parts as an average bike, making local repair and part replacement easy. The chair is also capable of functioning indoors as a “normal” wheelchair. A key aspect of the all-terrain wheelchair, according to Winter, is making “the person the complex machine” rather than the wheelchair.
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