The Control and Applications Research Centre (CARC) of BRAC University has developed an environment friendly solar powered electric wheelchair for the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP).
The developed electric wheelchair was handed over to Dr Valerie Ann Taylor, the founder and the coordinator of CRP on 13thDecember, 2015. Dr. Valerie Ann Taylor drove the electric wheelchair inside the CRP premise and she was delighted immensely because of the smooth performance of the electric wheelchair. "Hardly any force is required to pedal the electric wheelchair. It is a great achievement for the research team of the CARC of BRAC University to build up an innovative electric wheelchair for the paralyzed patients", she said with tremendous joy. Executive Director of CRP Muhammad Shafiq-ul Islam also appreciated the innovation.
head of physiotherapist at CRP, Head of Electrical Engineer at CRP and other Administrative Officers were also present on Sunday, December 13 to receive the prototype electric wheelchair. They were ecstatic and overwhelmed while running the prototype electric wheelchair.
Under the constant guidance and supervision of Professor Dr. AKM Abdul Malek Azad of Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) who is also the CARC director, CARC Research Engineers Md Jaber Al Rashid and AtaurRahman, CARC Project Engineer Sheri Jahan Chowdhury and the thesis students Tariqul Islam, MuhaiminurRahman, A.S.M Mahibullah Khan and RifatJerinUrmi worked relentlessly for the implementation of the project.
CARC was funded substantially by IEEE SIGHT USA in order to build up the prototype electric wheelchair for the disabled people. The developed electric wheelchair has got two important unique features and they are: a throttle and the torque sensor pedal. These two features enable the torque sensor based electric wheelchair to be driven by the motor both at indoor and outdoor. Furthermore, the CARC research team also implemented a portable solar charger kit at the CRP premise. The portable solar charger kit consists of solar panels, batteries and a charge controller. The objective of using the solar charger kit is to charge the batteries by using the solar energy only, but not taking the power from the national grid. Thus, through the use of the renewable energy technology, it is possible to ensure the electric wheelchair can be maneuveredfreely by people with disabilities by being completely independent of the national grid.
CARC Research team (from left to right: AtaurRahman, Sheri Jahan Chowdhury and Jaber al Rashid) at CRP premise with the electric wheelchair
The purpose of making an electric wheelchair with the renewable energy technology is to assist daily movements of the disabled people and to provide a complete off-grid solution in terms of charging the batteries for the electric wheelchair. CARC of BRAC University and CRP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the first week of December, 2015. According to the MoU, the designed electric wheelchair will be driven at CRP premise for 6 months and necessary research works and feedbacks from the wheelchair users, medical officers and CRP engineers will be conducted to find out the feasibility of the developed electric wheelchair in Bangladesh. Moreover, CRP officials will provide further assistance and guidance to the CARC of BRAC University, so that newly designed and cost-effective electric wheelchairs can be manufactured for people with all types of disabilities. Considering the difficulty which the disabled people experience every day to manoeuvre existing manual wheelchairs, it is a dire need to build up electric wheelchairs for the disabled people, especially for outdoor activities. The CARC of BRAC University aim to disseminate the use of torque sensor based electric wheelchairs with solar charger kit throughout the Bangladesh in order to ensure free and independent movement of people with disabilities. Due to increase in the popularity of the electric wheelchair in Bangladesh and to manufacture electric wheelchairs in large scale, various organizations like CRP needs to provide technical as well as financial assistance, and only then the dream of improving the lifestyles of disabled people in our community can be turned into reality. The CARC of BRAC University wishes to play a vital role to make the dream come true.
Jaber Al Rashid graduated from BRAC University and is a Research Engineer, CARC of BRAC University