Friday, 19 October 2007

Tankchair:- An Engineer's token of Love.

Awesome! Tankchair
Built by a very talented man, after his wife was injured in an accident, he sought to make a chair that would enable her to enjoy the woods, hiking, the places she had loved when she was able to walk. It can cope with mud, streams, snow, gravel, soft ground, all those things that are impossible for an ordinary wheelchair.
It can even climb stairs!
(though I bet that's scary for the pilot)

Their website says "For every 10 chairs sold, TankChair is going to donate one to a fire department in a rural area so that they can give it away to someone who would not normally be able to afford one. The first is going to go to Parker Fire Department in Arizona. This is our hometown and they were the ones who rescued my wife, my kids, and myself when we got in the accident that put her in the chair."

When I read their website I was so impressed at how he has striven to give his wife back the freedom of the outdoors.
If ever I need a wheelchair, I'll beg for one of these.

I Was driving to Work When......

Warning:-Technobabble and boys toys follow.
I was driving to work, a bit mentally vacant and stuck in slow traffic when I spotted a man in a yellow jacket fiddling with a radio control box. How strange, thought I. A group of business suited onlookers watched.
Up the embankment slope above the road a bizarre yellow thing was pirouetting, weaving between trees.... and cutting the deep grass. WOW! I WANT ONE! was the first thought..... Then an angry beep from behind forced me to notice the hundred yards of clear road ahead... That was a couple of years ago, The city bought, I think, four of these supertoys, to cut steep bankings by roads and in parkland. Ride-on mowing machines can be very hazardous on steep slopes, and fatalities are not unknown. Hand held brushcutters, (strimmers, weed whackers) are very labour intensive, and again, operator injuries are common.
The machine in question is a Ransomes Spider, an awesome machine, powered by a seventeen horse-power kawasaki engine, four wheel drive, four wheel steer..... Hydrostatic drive.
As far as I can tell it was designed by a Czech inventor, Mr Lubomir Dvorak, who founded a company to build them, and is the holder of the patents.
However, they're being made by Ransomes in England, under licence I assume.
What makes me think of this just now? Well I was sent a link to Dave Mows Grass, his most recent post, in which he is running short of blog materials, so loads up his pick-up with what might be well rotted horse-sh*t, and promptly gets it bogged on a perfectly innocent flat patch of grass.

A-ha, I thought... Dave NEEDS a Spider...

(The Spider would not do the pick up's job, I know, but a man with a stuck truck needs something else to do.)

Elsewhere, Warwick University has been experimenting with robotic self control of these, and the use of artificial intelligence to allow a group, or 'swarm' of spider-bots to co-operate.
Not slow to see that they need not be confined to mowing, another team, in Denmark, calling its Spider-based device 'Hortibot' has worked on building an autonomous machine to carry out tilling, seed planting, spraying, and much more.

At the moment they seem fearsomely expensive. Like about the same price as a BMW 1Series,
And I only have a tiny patch of flat grass.

Somewhat cheaper, and not quite as fun-looking is the Goat Hybrid Mower.

Now I look, I see all manner of geeks designing radio controlled lawnmowers... Anyway.... The growing season is over. I'll forget it all until next year....