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Development and Evaluation of Pneumatic Powered Mobility Devices

Daveler, Brandon J (2020) Development and Evaluation of Pneumatic Powered Mobility Devices. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The performance of battery-powered mobility devices (PMDs) has continually improved since their invention in the 1950s due to advances in electronics and their control systems. Yet they continue to experience increases in repairs and utilize battery technologies that require long recharge times and frequent, expensive replacement. Although advances in battery technologies are ongoing, the technology is expensive and raises safety concerns. The need for the development of alternative power sources has been voiced by consumers as well as providers of PMDs. Alternative forms of power need to be researched to further improve the performance of powered mobility devices. The purpose of this project was to develop a novel power system for powered mobility devices driven by compressed air and evaluate its performance in a real-world setting. This was accomplished by following the product development process with the addition of participatory action design to maximize the potential for meeting end user’s needs. Through the development of several iterations of mobility scooter prototypes, a pneumatic-powered system was created and optimized for efficiency. The results of the mobility scooter developments were later incorporated into the design of a powered wheelchair configuration. The two types of mobility devices were tested using ISO Wheelchair Standards to evaluate their safety, durability and maneuverability of which both devices performed comparatively to their battery-powered equivalents. Additionally, a pneumatic-powered shopping cart configuration was created to test its usage in a grocery store setting. K-Means clustering analysis was performed to evaluate whether certain demographics of individuals preferred to use the pneumatic-powered cart versus the battery-powered cart of which the results revealed individuals younger than 54 years old and those who do not own a mobility device preferred to use the pneumatic-powered shopping cart over the battery-powered shopping cart. Overall, the feasibility for pneumatic-powered mobility devices to serve as an alternative to battery-powered mobility devices is plausible. Although, further improvements as well as additional pilot tests are needed prior to commercialization.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Daveler, Brandon Jbjd52@pitt.eduBJD52
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCooper,
Committee MemberCohen,
Committee MemberSchmeler,
Committee MemberSchneider,
Committee MemberWang,
Date: 8 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 June 2020
Approval Date: 8 September 2020
Submission Date: 22 June 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 101
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Rehabilitation Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: PneuScooter, PneuChair, Mobility device, pneumatic, air-powered, wheelchair, mobility scooter
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2020 14:25
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2020 14:25


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