Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

More motion less commotion

For many physically handicapped people, the reliance on wheelchairs is the only means by which they can get around. The majority of these do not have the wherewithal to afford electric, motorised components and are required to use enormous effort in order to generate motion. A new development, a linear motion generator, now affords them greater ease of use.
More motion less commotion
For the most part, large amounts of human energy are needed in order to generate motion when using such mechanisms as wheelchairs and bicycles - especially when used for transportation. While the recreational use of bicycles may not be much of a challenge, being wholly dependent on a wheelchair in order to get around proves to be an entirely different matter. Life for physically challenged people is enormously difficult, requiring a period of adaptation and strenuous physical development of the upper body in order to manoeuvre a wheelchair.

A recent development in the form of a mechanism to transmit linear and circular motion into reciprocating, unidirectional and continuous motion now provides maximum efficiency for minimum effort. Most mechanisms that require human effort to generate motion are inefficient to the degree that the driving force is not always tangential to the rotational circle. In layman's terms, this means that much of the circular motion, i.e. in pushing a wheelchair, is spent in regaining the return position required for another push.

The mechanism put forward, now offers considerable advantages, the main being that both forward (driving) and backward (return) forces generate continuous motion. In doing so, both forces generate motion and maximize torque and therefore rate of work production as well. It also minimizes energy loss to friction and other causes and suffers from no induced vibrations. From a technical point of view, the innovation consists of simple, readily available parts that are of low-cost manufacture.

As such, the system has a wide range of applications, from recreational (bicycles, water bikes and pedal-bikes) to handicap aids such as wheelchairs. Because the desired revs of the load can be stepped either upwards or downwards with the use of simple gears, it makes the system usable by practically anyone. The developer is looking for a variety of collaborations and has a prototype ready for testing.
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