Good Thinking

RoChair offers a unique form of wheelchair propulsion

RoChair offers a unique form o...
The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
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The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
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The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
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The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
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The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
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The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
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The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
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The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever

Imagine if the only way of propelling yourself on a bicycle was to reach down and turn one of the wheels with your hand. It would be pretty inefficient, yet that's essentially how a wheelchair works. Of course, wheelchairs are set up so that the push-rims can be reached very easily, but the propulsion process still comes down to the wheels being directly pushed forward by hand. ROTA Mobility, however, has an alternative. It's called the RoChair, and it's a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a front-and-center-mounted lever.

The ROTA powertrain takes the linear back-and-forth motion of the lever, and converts it into unidirectional rotary output. Depending on the selected gearing, one push-pull of the lever can translate into as much as two wheel revolutions.

Steering is accomplished by turning the adjustable-length lever to the left or right, while handlebar-mounted brake levers activate the wheelchair's dual disc brakes. A choice of eight gears is available, depending on whether users are going for maximum speed and efficiency on the flats, or making their way uphill.

As compared to traditional wheelchairs, the RoChair's push/pull propulsion system is said to not only offer a better mechanical advantage, but it is reportedly also less likely to cause repetitive strain injuries of the shoulders, wrists and hands. The chair still has traditional push-rims, however, for maneuvering at very slow speeds or in tight quarters.

It's also fairly narrow, with a width of 24 inches (61 cm). According to its designers, previous attempts at lever propulsion wheelchairs haven't used a front-and-center-mounted lever, and have thus ended up being wider. The RoChair additionally utilizes smaller-than-normal 20-inch wheels. These low wheels allow users to slide directly across from a chair onto its seat (its arm rests raise), without having to heave themselves up over one wheel. It's also designed to disassemble in seconds for car stowage.

The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever
The RoTrike is a human-powered scooter that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever

ROTA Mobility also makes the three-wheeled RoTrike, for users who prefer the idea of a human-powered scooter over that of a wheelchair. Both devices are priced at US$4,980 each.

The video below shows them in use.

Source: Bicycle Design

ROTA Mobility

13 comments
Martin Nguyen
I\'ve seen very cheaply made versions of these in Vietnam about 4 years ago, was wondering when they\'ll make it over to the western countries.
Terotech
I remember seeing wheelchairs propelled by two hand levers pushed forward and backward some 60-70 years ago.
Jean Lacombe
nothing new about the system ; when i was a kid (in the 50\'s) a lot of war veteran in europe used the same kind of wheel chair ( maybe heavier than now)
Tysto
I\'m pretty sure my friend\'s Quickie costs around $1600. Even that is very expensive compared to a bicycle. Why does this cost as much as a used car?
Facebook User
What a great idea! I watched an elderly woman try to negotiate a ramp the other day and she wasn\'t quick enough to keep the chair from rolling back almost as much as she had gained. A selectable ratchet device would be a big help there, but this push-pull (gandy-dancer) bar would be even better.
Ed
OMG! $5 grand? Is this theft legal? And if it is, how do I get in on this as an investment? I want tobe able to steal from people like this!
Steven Livingston
RE: the outragous expense of mobility devices. I\'m a wheelchair tech &, from my observation, I can tell you that one of the main reasons chairs are so expense is simple economics; there are few companies making few units (compared to, say, cars) & their manufacture is very labor intensive. Add to that the fact that, for the most part, they have to have customized & fitted seating systems as individual as people who must use them. Then, of course, there is the matter of the racket that is the US free-market health insurance system, with its graft & corruption... The main problem I see with the mechanics of this system is in transitioning; looks like things could get awkward. This looks more suited to paras that still have a lot of upper body control.
electric38
Wheelchair manufacturers need to standardize batteries so they can be solar PV charged. Using the free energy of the sun to assist the disabled should have been in place years ago. Fully charged batteries should be available at every business they travel to. Allow small businesses a generous subsidy for the solar installation expense, if used to assist the disabled. Allow the disabled a generous subsidy for solar power on their homes, so they can find financial relief from the medical expenses they incur. They should not have the expense of charging these batteries every month on their home power bill. Let the sun charge these batteries for free.
grtbluyonder
Reminds me of a 19th century railway pump car.
Pekoe
Jean Lacombe, can you post a link to the chair from the 50\'s? Ed, it\'s only theft if you don\'t give somebody the product after they purchase it. This looks like it\'s meant to be a bicycle for the disabled, which is an awesome idea!