Martin Harris, a 21-year-old British college student, has created one of the most groundbreaking mobility devices in recent memory — the Walking Chair.
That’s right, there’s no “wheel” in this fantastical device. It’s a chair, but it doesn’t sit on wheels. Look closely — it moves via 12 steel legs working in pairs. The design enables the user to cross terrain wheelchairs can’t — snow, sand, mud, slopes. It isn’t however made to climb stairs. The legs are way too short.
It’s powered by a basic power wheelchair motor and driven by a joystick from a standard power chair as well. And the controllers are blissfully simple — press forward to go forward, pull backwards to go back.
I believe this chair is a first. I’ve seen drawings of such spindly-legged devices on art scribblings online, even the beginning of college thesis, but to see it to finally come to life is freaking awesome.
Martin, an able-bodied student at the University of Derby, cannot take credit for the brilliant leg design itself — it’s straight from artist Theo Jansen, a sculptor who creates steel “creatures” with legs. One of his designs in particular, Strandbeest, is the sculpture Martin says was the inspiration for the Walking Chair. Check out Strandbeest here
One of the coolest things I noticed about this device is how smoothly it walks, yet it can move an incredible amount of weight. The 12 legs move spider/scissor-like — kinda creepy, yet really cool. And the chair was intended to really shine on terrain normal wheelchairs typically struggle in — and it succeeds. However the chair is awkward on smooth surfaces, and as stated above, it can’t climb stairs. A work in progress, but one day … oh, the possibilities. Just say no to wheels.
Here’s my two cents: I say give it longer legs — about 2 feet long, and then it would be perfect for going up all kinds of stairs, for everything; it would be human-like. Win-win.
As I always say, if we can put man on the moon, we can create the ultimate mobility device. It’s just a matter of finding someone with the energy, youth and genius combined with rich people who care.
Visit its site: Walking Chair
Would you use the Walking Chair?