Project: Working on progressive adaptations to pedal-electric all terrain vehicle

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Tommy at Outrider

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Hi everyone,

Hope y’all are doing well!

I’m starting a thread to create a space for a project that I’m working on with students at UC Davis and Greg Tanner, a PALS that works with disabilityreports.org. The goal is to create new adaptations for a lightweight pedal-electric all terrain vehicle, called an Outrider, that was initially developed especially for riders with spinal cord injuries. The idea is for a PALS to be able to start out with a pedal and electric powered configuration, and be able to make changes to the modular vehicle as needed. So it could later be configured for electric throttle-only operation, or joystick control, or even remote control.

We worked with students at the University of North Carolina in Asheville to develop the prototype joystick and RC control. Greg is providing UC Davis with an Outrider to make further refinements on the joystick control to get it closer to the point of production. UC Davis is also considering development of a chin joystick.

Here’s a video of the development work that UNCA did (the joystick and R/C control):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dVEEcq944o

I hope you guys enjoy the updates, and we would love feedback!

Thanks,
Tommy
 

Ells

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Tommy, whilst I applaud your intentions and would dearly love an ATV, I do see barriers to me using it.

Access - it is very low, so as a well-progressed PALS, it would be difficult to transfer from/to a regular pwc.
Seat position & shape is lethal for PALS w/ weak necks, cores and backs.

I do love the concept though!
 

KimT

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I don't see it as a viable option for anyone with ALS. It looks like an accident waiting to happen. It looks very unstable. Even as a PALS with pretty full mobility, I wouldn't want to subject my posture to something that looks like I could easily fall out of it.

Very cool design. I would think there would be a better market for it in a population with full mobility or non-progressive injuries.
 

BetsyB

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I agree with the others who posted comments. as ALS progresses, it seems like falls become more and more lethal (and the prospect of falling ever more terrifying.)
But, like Morrie Scwartz, I would dearly love to be reborn as a gazelle. I still remember the exhilaration of running. So any machine that could go fast and also keep me safe would be intriguing indeed.
 

Tommy at Outrider

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Thank you all for the feedback!!

Ells,

The floor to seat height is 16", so about a 4" differential from seat-seat on an average pwc. We're looking at some modifications further down the road that would allow the chassis to rise for transfers, and then drop back down to ride height.

Seat height is tricky. Too high, and stability suffers, too low, and transfers are made more difficult. We've found this height to be the best middle ground between the two. The most cost-effective option is for us to use permanent risers that bring it up to 18 or 20 inches, this is a pretty simple solution.

A headrest is a common option that works great to support the head and neck. We also use harnesses and straps from bodypoint for rider security.

If there's a thought towards the ergonomics of the seat that would make it more suitable, I'd love to hear it (shape, venting, etc). The seatback angle is adjustable, and the cushion can be removed so riders can use their own custom cushions.


Kim T,

Thanks for the feedback! Note that the bike in the video is a prototype. The programming on this prototype is still unrefined, so control is twitchy. This will be refined with UC Davis' work. The vehicles themselves are very stable.

The bodypoint straps work great to keep riders secure. We've had many paraplegic and partial quad riders that have ridden comfortably and safely. The power and speed of the Outrider can also be dialed back for new riders.

Betsy,

That's certainly a valid concern! Dialing back the power and top speed lets the rider tune the bike in to what they're comfortable with. At the fastest setting, we still wouldn't be able to keep pace with the awesome speed of a gazelle!!

Thanks again for the comments everyone,
Tommy
 
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affected

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Looks really cool :)

But don't confuse spinal injuries with the progressive degeneration of ALS.

How long do you think it will be til you have something on the market?
 

swalker

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Thank you for posting this. It is a very interesting idea and I enjoyed the video.

I share the thoughts of others who have posted regarding:
1. Ease of entry and exit
2. Stability, especially on side slopes
3. Body support, especially the torso.

I have quite a few miles in a Magic Mobility X4 (which has been superseded by the X8 ). That is a 4 wheel drive wheelchair with 14" diameter ATV tires. Based on that, I will offer the following feedback.

1. Ground clearance is a significant issue when going off road. I find the X4 is tolerable, but more ground clearance would make a huge difference.
2. Approach and departure angles are also significant. I find that the X4's approach angle is not sufficient for the rough terrain I like to go over (though the ground clearance is sufficient in many cases).
3. Wheelbase is also significant. Both because a long wheelbase can allow the middle of the chair to bottom out too easily and because a long wheelbase with a narrow stance can lead to stability issues.
4. Power and torque are critical. I often find that I am stopped by a lack of power/torque. The chair just stalls out on a hill and I must figure out how to get back down in one piece.
5. Overall contact patch and multiple drive wheels is critical. On my two-wheel drive chairs I often am stopped by the wheels spinning out (and digging into soft material). With my X4, I am occasionally stopped by this, but that chair is so much more useful because of the number of drive wheels and the contact patch for each wheel.
6. Being able to drive this into a wheelchair van is also critical. If I can't take my chair on my adventures, it does not matter how good of a chair it is. It should have tie down locations (for riding busses) and provisions for an EZLock bracket.
7. Range is very important. My X4 has an effective range of 4 miles. My Permobil C500s VS has an effective range of 12 miles. The X4's range is simply not enough. While the Permobil's range is adequate, my adventures are frequently cut short by a low battery.
8. It probably goes without saying, but reliability is paramount. It simply would not be acceptable to be stranded on a trail miles from my wheelchair van.

As a final thought, my X4 has 4 wheels and is suitable for use indoors. This is critically important in the United States, because federal law deems such a wheelchair to be a pedestrian. Therefore, it is lawful to use on any trail on federal lands where wheelchairs are not specifically prohibited. Your three-wheelchair would not meet either of these criteria, and thus would be banned from trails in national parks, national forests, wilderness areas, etc.

I encourage you to continue development of this concept. I am a strong supporter and would be glad to give you more feedback and discuss design ideas. Heck, I would even volunteer to be a beta tester:)

Steve
 

Tommy at Outrider

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Tillie,

Thanks for the compliments on the looks!! One of our goals in styling on the Outriders has been to be adventurous and avoid a "medical" look.

I'm sorry if it sounded like I might be suggesting that a one size fits all solution will work for PALS and individuals with SCI. I realize that they are two very different animals, and I mean to treat both with respect. In design of the vehicle platform, our goal was to make it extremely modular so it could support a wide variety of customizations to meet different rider's needs. As we've begun to have PALS reach out to us, we've realized that it's a community we can serve, and we want to open up the line of communication so we can do the best job possible in our adaptations.

As far as availability goes, the Horizon 2-series is currently available in leg+electric (L) power as well as all-electric ATV (A) configurations [see images below]. My best estimate is that it will be 16-24 months until joystick and RC control are released.

Horizon 230L (leg power+electric)



Horizon 230A (all-electric ATV w/ vertical hand controls)




Steve,

Such a great chunk of feedback! Thank you. I recently enjoyed watching T.Low's video of him going wheelin' in the snow with his Frontier V6 AT PWC.

The X4 and the X8 are sweet machines. It's helpful to see the pros and cons laid out like that. I like to think of the garage as a toolbox. There are many tools for many jobs. The Horizon doesn't try to be a PWC, it has different DNA, so it will have different pros and cons and applications vs a PWC.

The clearest differentiation in my mind is intended primary use. While the all-terrain PWCs are similar to a set of work boots in function (go out, get the job done, come home), the Horizon is more similar to a set of hiking boots (go out, explore and wander, come home). The AT PWC will almost always win out in everyday practicality, as the Horizon is not for use indoors. However, in its L configuration, it can be used both on roads and trails, so you ride from the house, and go explore trails. The road-worthy speeds, power, and long range (25-160 miles depending on battery choice) are what make this feasible.

I'm curious why lead batteries are still so prevalent in PWC's, can anyone provide insight? I understand that they keep the center of gravity low, they are lower cost, and more readily available, and could be perceived as safer, but it seems like the range compromise vs lithium would be a compelling enough reason for lithium packs to be more commonplace.

Thanks for your support Steve, we just might take you up on that beta testing! We actually have a Horizon 210L shipping out to Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, CO next Friday. I’d love to setup a time for you to visit so you can ride and give us your feedback.

Here's a video of the Horizon 220L doing some offroading to close:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ftc1KUPUM0


Thanks again everyone for the awesome feedback! It's much appreciated. Cheers!
 
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swalker

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Tillie,
I'm curious why lead batteries are still so prevalent in PWC's, can anyone provide insight? I understand that they keep the center of gravity low, they are lower cost, and more readily available, and could be perceived as safer, but it seems like the range compromise vs lithium would be a compelling enough reason for lithium packs to be more commonplace.
I have been told that the major governing factor that limits wheelchair technology is the limitations on what Medicare will cover. Most private insurance take their lead from Medicare, so if Medicare does not cover something, private insurance likely will not either.

As I understand it, Medicare rules state that a wheelchair is only covered if it is needed for essential activities of daily living (such as toileting, feeding, etc.). None of the essential activities of daily living (by Medicare's definition) require going outside or going for long distances.

Thus, wheelchair vendors use lead acid batteries. I am not aware of any that offer Lithium batteries.

I have looked at swapping out my lead acid batteries for LIFEPO4 batteries, but the cost is pretty prohibitive (north of $1,000 for each of the 2 batteries I need) and doing so may require modification to the wheelchair electronics.

It sounds like your business model is focused on customers that can privately pay for an outrider.

It also sounds like you are targeting customers that will ride on roads, bike paths, or private property, but not federal lands.

Those are business decisions I would encourage you to reconsider. That thought is based on my 30 years of experience as a business executive with lots of time spent evaluating market opportunity, market size, etc.

Crested Butte is about a 4 hour drive for me (one way), so I probably will not be able to get there to test out the Outrider. I would love to try it, though. If you get one closer to Vail, keep me in mind!

I like your concept and am very encouraged to see a company pushing the boundaries of mobility technology. I wish you great success with your product and will closely track its development.

Steve
 
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