Rio Mobility Firefly turns wheelchairs into powered tricycles

Interesting Engineering
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Getting around in a wheelchair is not an effortless matter. Even popping to the shop or walking the dog can be quite the chore for those less able. An attachable from Rio Mobility called the Firefly looks to take a load off getting around by fixing onto a wide range of wheelchairs in no time at all, turning them into powered tricycles.

firefly-wheelchair-scooter-handcycle-0[Image Source: Rio Mobility]

As you fix the Firefly on to the wheelchair the two small front wheels are raised from the ground. The powered front wheel can then pull your wheelchair along at speeds up to 18 km/h (11 mph). This wouldn't be possible unassisted (excluding gravity) and not only that, it requires no effort from the user.

The removable lithium polymer battery is quoted as providing 4 hoursof travel on a full charge, roughly24 km, and sits at the front of the aircraft alloy steel frame. The battery powers a300 Wgeared brushless hub motor which requires no maintenance and the full attachment weighs15 kgin total.

firefly-wheelchair-scooter-handcycle-6[Image Source: Rio Mobility]

All the controls are found on the handlebars that feature a twist-grip style handle for the throttle, two brake levers and a bell for good measure. There's also a speedometer and odometer, a reverse gear and a park brake. The handlebars can even be turned 90 degrees to allow for indoor maneuverability and tight situations.

Walking uphill is enough of a pain for me and so I can easily sympathise with wheelchair users, but with this device clipped on the front you'll be zipping up hills with zero effort.

They are available now for US$1,950 and the company also offer a couple of other manual and electric assist handcycle options, as well as a very nifty dual lever drive system that drives your wheelchair using a pair of handles not unlike the top bit of an elliptical trainer.

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