In this post is about our vision and our product and how we got there.
Early in 2013 all students of Mech. Eng. were informed about the focus projects an the ETH. Focus projects are designed to put the knowledge acquired at ETH to practical use. Most projects are initiated by professors and their department. Nevertheless students have the opportunity to apply for a project of their own.
Our project began with an idea of Beni Winter, he wanted to develop a robot able to climb stairs. This machine should balance on one wheel and transport a camera for the purpose of filming. Basically something like the rezero able to film and climb stairs with a high degree of agility. After a couple of meetings with Prof. Sigwart we decided to build a wheelchair capable of climbing stairs. The project got accepted and we presented it all other colleges. This resulted in a team of seven Mech. Eng. students and one electrical engineer. To give our product a good design two Zhdk students joined our team.
In the summer break of 2014 we wanted to decide how our wheelchair should climb stairs.We had several concepts, which we narrowed down to two options:
A wheelchair with big wheels. The bigger the wheels the more the stairs become like a ramp. A support arm makes sure the chair is always in a safe position and can not fall down.
The second idea was to put four rubber tracks on the side of the wheelchair. The rubber tracks should be tilted down to climb stairs and move up to drive around.
The problem with the idea with big wheels was that this is not very comfortable and secure. On the other hand the rubber tracks are very heavy and the system would be very complex. So we decided to take the best of both worlds.
We intend to make an easy to use, light weight and reliable wheelchair witch is able to climb stairs. On the flat ground the wheelchair should balance on two big wheels like a segway. For the stairs we will use two rubber tracks on the bottom of the chair. In the next post, you can read about how scalevo works.