Initial prototype Chiang Mai University single-occupant electric vehicle for paraplegic wheelchair-seated drivers
Keywords:Technological invention, Automobile, Electric vehicle, Wheelchair users, Wheelchair-seated driver, Paraplegia
Objectives To describe the initial prototype Chiang Mai University single-occupant electric vehicle for paraplegic wheelchair-seated drivers and to demonstrate paraplegic wheelchair users’ satisfaction with the vehicle.
Methods A used 2-seat Chinese electric vehicle was modified including invention and installation of a remote-controlled rear-door-to-ramp conversion which provided access for a wheelchair as well as a securement system for the wheelchair. The prototype electric vehicle had two rear motor hubs, an electric motor with peak power of 2.1 kW, and a 60V, 80Ah lead-acid battery pack. A motorcycle handlebar/brake system had also been added. The vehicle’s maximum speed was 48 km/h. Ten paraplegic wheelchair users who regularly drive a modified sidecar motorcycle test-drove the prototype while seated in a Japanese light-weight manual wheelchair with an adaptor installed for wheelchair docking. The pariticpants rated their satisfaction with the prototype, compared it with their modified sidecar motorcycles and provided suggestions for further improvement.
Results All participants were able to drive the prototype without difficulty with the exception of reverse parallel parking. They all stated they were very satisfied with the prototype. Compared to their modified sidcar motorcycles, the prototype had higher average satisfaction scores for safety (p = 0.05) but slightly lower for performance (p = 0.414). Higher ramp side rails, lower wheelchair docking, an audio obstacle warning system for reverse parallel parking, and a smaller turning radius were suggested improvements.
Conclusions Paraplegic wheelchair users were very satisfied with the initial prototype Chiang Mai University single-occupant electric vehicle for wheelchair-seated drivers, although adjustments to improve performance are needed.
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