The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport (NUWC Newport) has developed and applied for a patent on an innovative design for a wheel chair that can more easily navigate on soft and uneven outdoor terrain such as grass and gravel. The chair uses three wheels: Two wheels in the front (approximately the same size as the rear wheels on a traditional four-wheeled chair), and a third wheel in the back that is roughly two-thirds as tall as the front wheels.
The relatively large size of all three wheels makes it easier to maneuver over a variety of surfaces, and the back wheel can pivot 360 degrees for easy turning. The design is very stable and the overall chair is occupies a footprint only slightly larger than traditional designs. In addition to enhanced performance outdoors, the chair is also ideal for situations where the occupant of the chair is larger than the person pushing the chair. Additional features include bicycle-style brakes and a wheel ratchet design that can be activated to prevent the chair from rolling backwards.
- Simple: Chair is easy to maintain and light-weight because it does not require electronics or complex machinery
- Effective: Existing three-wheel designs utilize a small rear wheel that provides stability and maneuverability performs poorly on uneven surfaces
- Mobility Enhancing: Empowers wheel chair occupants to access new terrain or greatly reduce the effort required to reach previously challenging locations
- Pending US patent application
- Potential for collaboration with Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport researchers