UPitt develops waterproof power wheelchair
PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) has designed, developed and constructed a patent-pending waterproof power wheelchair that runs entirely on compressed air. The PneuChair pneumatic wheelchair was unveiled this month at Morgan’s Wonderland, a 25-acre theme park in San Antonio that was built specifically for people with disabilities. Ten of the wheelchairs will be available for use at the venue’s new splash park, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, when it opens this spring. The wheelchair uses high-pressured air as an energy source instead of batteries and electronics. It weighs about 80 pounds and takes 10 minutes to charge, compared to eight hours for an electric mobility device. HERL, which is a joint effort between UPitt, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was already working on a prototype of the PneuChair when it was contacted by representatives from Sports Outdoor and Recreation (SOAR), which oversees Morgan’s Wonderland, to help develop a power wheelchair for the splash park.