Yamaha Motor has developed an electrical assist unit for wheelchairs, called the JWX-2.
The JWX-2 applies PAS technology from assisted bicycles to wheelchairs. The electric assist works in line with the load on the wheelchair’s hand rims, enabling it to operate smoothly on slopes, where the load is high, and on carpets.
“We currently offer a unit called the JW-II, but this one differs in two main ways. In the previous version, the motor was pillbox-shaped and stuck out, so there were some cases where it couldn’t be attached to the wheelchair. Here, we’ve made the pillbox motor flat, so the surface it’s attached by is flat. This means the JW-II can be attached to virtually any wheelchair.”
This newly developed, flat AC servomotor also enables the axle position to be adjusted in the up-down and front-back directions. Plus, it’s more efficient, which increases the travel range by about 20%.
“We previously offered three types, to match the user’s physical condition. For example, users could choose Type A or B depending on their grip strength. But this new unit can be connected to a PC, enabling the user to create settings with software called JW Smart Tune. For example, hardly anyone has exactly the same strength in their left and right arms. So, people who are weaker on the left can get stronger assistance on the left, enabling them to move straight ahead.”
The assist is switched on and off simply by pressing a button. Additionally, the left and right buttons can be used to set different assist levels, which can be used on steep and gentle slopes.
“We’ll be releasing this in spring 2013, as we’re still developing it. We haven’t decided the price yet, but it’ll be based on those of current models.”