SlopeSupport is a wheelchair retrofit during my coursework for 2.009, Product Engineering Processes. This is the final class in the mechanical engineering curriculum that is designed to bring all of the knowledge and skills gained over the 4 years into a very large design project. Teams of 14 are given a budget of a few thousand dollars to design and build a product that addresses the goals of that years challenge. Our class was challenged with designing assistive products for people with physical disabilities.
The product we designed, named SlopeSupport, was a retrofit to a standard wheelchair that could be engaged to prevent rollback down a slope. With our device turned on, the wheelchair user can safely and more easily roll up a ramp because they do not have to worry about sliding back down if they let go of the handwheels by accident. The mechanism used a one way sprag clutch with a bronze engagement feature that allowed adjustable amounts of slip.
Feedback from wheelchair users was excellent and some even said that they would prefer to have it on all the time!
Read more about the 2.009 class experience here