Wheelchair users have had to live with the fact that stairs, sharp curbs and doorsteps either required assistance to maneuver, or made access to some locations impossible. The TopChair-S, however, is designed to change that. It's an electric wheelchair designed to safely maneuver over such obstacles, utilizing caterpillar-like tracks in addition to wheels for greater maneuverability and independence.
The TopChair-S automatically detects the start and end of a staircase or similar obstacle, and can maneuver steps that are up to 20 cm (7.9 inches) in height and at a maximum pitch of 35 degrees. It ascends stairs in reverse and descends face-forward, all while keeping the occupant at a level horizontal angle.
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Each chair comes with an adjustable joystick and an LCD screen for controlling various functions. Power is provided by two 60-A/h batteries, allowing the chair to travel from 35 to 45 km (22 to 28 miles) at a speed of about 9 km/h (6 mph) before recharging. Two 400-watt motors drive the tracks, while two 350-watt motors power the wheels.
Additional options and accessories are available for users wanting to customize it according to their specific needs. This includes the addition of chin controls, seat accessories for support and safety, options for arm and leg rests, and an LED lighting kit.
The TopChair-S can be ordered from the company's website for about €15,000 (around US$16,320), but is unavailable for delivery into the US until it passes FDA approval, which is expected to take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.It joins a number of other tracked wheelchairs like the Tomahawk (geared primarily for use in the outdoors), the Scalevo and the B-Free Chair.
Take a look at the TopChair-S in action, in the following video.