Omniwheels and mountain trikes: five visionary new wheelchair designs

Added Date: 16th October 2014
Omniwheels and mountain trikes: five visionary new wheelchair designs

From the ‘omniwheels’ of the Whill to off-road caterpillar tracks, we look at the latest innovations in personal mobility vehicles

Looking like what you might get if Apple turned its sleek, minimalist hand to wheelchair design, the Whill is the product of a new startup company formed by a group of former Nissan and Toyota designers and engineers, working in Tokyo and San Francisco. Its major innovation is the incorporation of a pair of “omniwheels” at the front, which consist of normal wheels surrounded by 24 separate tyres that can rotate perpendicularly to the direction of travel. They give the chair an incredibly tight turning radius for indoor use (71cm to be precise), while four-wheel drive allows the chair to travel with ease across rough terrain, from snow and grass to sand and gravel.

It is controlled by a unique mouse-like device on the arm, while the level of acceleration and steering responsiveness can be adjusted on an accompanying smartphone app. In sum, it has all the futuristic styling and precision controls that Professor X could ever dream of.

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