The TopChair-S keeps the occupant face-forward when ascending or descending (Credit: TopChair)
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.
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.