Local technology company B-Free Technology Ltd. has unveiled the world’s first automatic wheelchair that is capable of climbing staircases, making it possible for disabled individuals to access places with stairs, Metro Hong Kong reported on Thursday.
There are more than 100,000 wheelchair users in Hong Kong yet there is a lack of barrier-free facilities catering to their needs.
The new invention, called the B-Free Chair, is the world’s first two-part pedrail-driven, stair-climbing electronic wheelchair. The technology is 100 percent developed in Hong Kong and has obtained patents in nine countries and regions.
The pedrails grab the surface tightly, enabling a swift and steady climb. The B-Free Chair is also equipped with patented safety locks on both sides that support loads of up to 500 kilograms.
The extendable pedrail can also be adjusted to raise the wheelchair, matching the height of a standing adult.
B-Free Chair inventor Alan Lee, who is also the founder of B-Free Technology Ltd., said it is very difficult for wheelchair users to see the service staff behind a counter when they are buying drinks or making inquiries. But the “standing mode” function of his invention will allow users to face a standing person, thus giving them a psychological boost.
Lee said he learned about a disabled youngster who never left home for six years because he needed to negotiate five flights of stairs in order to get to the lobby of the building. It was this story that inspired Lee to work on a new wheelchair that would allowed disabled people to go out more often.
The B-Free Chair is priced at HK$128,000 (US$16,514) each, the report said.
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