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Innovative Portable Traction Ramp from Smart Composite materials for Automatic Ascending and Descending of Wheelchair Users

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Designing groundbreaking wheelchair ramps

Wheelchair users often struggle negotiating entry into and exit from buildings because of uneven ground. An EU initiative seeks to design a novel ramp that enables users to automatically command their wheelchairs to securely scale slopes without assistance.

Industrial Technologies

Stairs and indoor and outdoor areas may be designed in such a way that they cannot be accommodated by traditional ramps even in disabled-friendly public and private buildings. This makes easy access to all types of buildings and public spaces very problematic or impossible for wheelchair users. To address the issue, the EU-funded RAMPCO (Innovative portable traction ramp from smart composite materials for automatic ascending and descending of wheelchair users) project is developing a portable, foldable and extendable ramp enabling automatic climbing and descending capabilities for indoor and outdoor stairs. Composed of lightweight composite materials, it will be compliant with safety, health and legal requirements. Manual and electric wheelchair users will instruct the ramp to safely transport the wheelchair several metres up stairs unassisted. It will operate on much steeper slopes and climb up to eight steps. This is the unique feature of the RAMPCO solution. Nine months into the two-year project, partners have selected the optimal concept for the ramp following feedback from disabled persons and building owners. They specified its mechanical, electrical and electronic components and performed a preliminary design review, examined policy and standards, and analysed requirements, limitations and safety regulations. The team specified the traction system and most of the structural composite components. Control system specifications were defined and an initial design version has been prepared. Requirements for the system's wireless communication tool and mobile application were established. Software has been created to test the controller communication with a remote system. As work continues toward a pioneering, reliable and cost-efficient accessibility solution for wheelchair users, RAMPCO will help break down barriers and physical obstacles encountered daily by the disabled.

Keywords

Wheelchair, ramps, portable traction ramp, disabled, composite materials

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2 October 2020