Design Challenge - September 2016

WHEELCHAIR OPERATING SEAT

POPE DESIGN & CURTIS INSTRUMENTS

Jon Pope Immobility affects people for many different reasons. But becoming immobile when your job is farming or working as an equipment operator does not have to mean the end of your career. Over the years the heavy equipment world has made several accommodations for disabled operators with custom cabs that lower to the ground, but they are complicated systems and often require a whole new set of controls to accommodate the wheelchair. So why not have a simple cab-lowering system that works for both the able-bodied and disabled that’s easy for all to use?

Pope Design and Curtis Instruments teamed up to create a concept system to help the disabled equipment operator of the future. The result was a simple cab design that offers all operators easier ingress/egress. But a special feature option cab would allow the disabled operator to use an electric mobility wheelchair in the cab – and what makes this system different from other existing handicapped cab modifications available today would be that the mobility chair’s controls would also function as the machine’s controls when in the cab.

It’s a simple, almost seamless, system. The cab would swing down to the ground on a boom. The special feature option cab would have a rear entry facility that uses the door as a ramp. Once the operator is inside the cab, the wheels of the electric mobility wheelchair are automatically locked down. Bluetooth connection allows the electric mobility chair controls to switch from operating the chair to operating the machine (in this case, a combine harvester). The only control in the cab itself would be an E-stop button. All machine functions would be controlled by the electric mobility chair. Machine systems would be monitored and controlled by a tablet mounted to the electric mobility chair.

The full suspension cab would come as standard with standard controls but with the ability to lower to the ground. The special option cab would be the same configuration, but stripped out of all controls and IP displays. It would also have the rear access ramp for easy ingress/egress with an electric mobility wheelchair. Side door access would remain for safety reasons and to keep the cab as standard as possible. In theory, a cab with this level of technology that lowers to the ground could in future be designed into most farm equipment, and potentially most earthmoving equipment too.

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