A group of Swiss students just conquered one of the biggest obstacles for wheelchair users: stairs.

It's the closest thing to an all-terrain wheelchair the world has ever seen.

Wheelchairs have been around for hundreds of years. And while improvements have been made over time, one obstacle remained — stairs.

Last year, a group of 10 Swiss students unveiled the prototype of a project that may one day make getting around a bit easier for people in wheelchairs.

The team was made up of mechanical and electrical engineering students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Zurich University of the Arts. Together, they developed what would come to be known as the Scalevo electric wheelchair.


All images via Scalevo.

The Scalevo is an electric wheelchair with one very notable, unique feature: Stairs no longer stand in its way.

The team's goal was to develop a "powered wheelchair which meets the demands of daily use and has the ability to climb and descend stairs safely without external help or additional devices."

Watching their video, I'd say mission accomplished.

The chair is able to climb stairs using rubber tracks between the two wheels.

You know, kind of like a tank or WALL-E.


To climb stairs, the user just rolls up with his or her back to the steps and lets the rubber tracks do their thing.

They see me rollin'...

There's also another set of wheels in the back that can lift users up.

But don't expect to see someone rolling past you in a Scalevo chair anytime soon — this is just a prototype.

The team's work was done over the course of just a few months and was intended to be a proof of concept more than anything else.

Part of the Scalevo team's goal is to have their product refined and ready for the Cybathlon Challenge for Robot-Assisted Parathletes (it's exactly what it sounds like) in October 2016.

Just think about how much more accessible the world could be for wheelchair-using individuals if something like this was put to market and made affordable.

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular