By David Ponce
Being confined to a wheelchair is not easy, at least we can’t imagine it is. And while being able to propel yourself with your arms can become second nature after a while, some electric assistance can probably be appreciated over longer distances. Currently in development in Japan, the WHILL is an twin-hub attachment that can go over the wheels of a wheelchair and provide said electric locomotion. The device is then steered a bit like a Segway, with the user tilting his upper body in the direction he wishes to travel.
Each of the hubs contains a separate 24-volt motor, powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. These turn the chair’s wheels, propelling it up to a top speed of 20 km/h (12.5 mph). The battery reportedly takes two hours to charge, and offers a range of approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles).
The WHILL project is currently looking for volunteers to test it. There is no word on price or availability.