More than a quarter million dollars from private donors are being committed to fund the construction of a wheelchair test lab at Free Wheelchair Mission’s home office in Irvine, Calif.

The organization provides mobility solutions for people with disabilities in developing countries. Currently, the only way to evaluate wheelchair designs is by field-testing them in one of the 93 countries it serves and monitoring the progress—an expensive and time-consuming process that can yield ambiguous results, according to a media release from Free Wheelchair Mission.

The new wheelchair test lab can change all that. It will be designed to propel wheelchairs over repeated obstacles while continuously monitoring stress, strain, accelerations, and temperature rise due to friction. These obstacles will be designed to simulate those encountered in developing-world situations.

“Our new Free Wheelchair Mission test lab will compress a full year of field testing into a few hundred hours of lab testing. It will greatly accelerate our product improvement program and provide reproducible data. We are unaware of any other wheelchair provider having this ability,” says Free Wheelchair Mission Founder and president, Don Schoendorfer, in the release.

Schoendorfer adds that the test lab will be made available to other International Society of Wheelchair Providers members who are producing wheelchairs for the developing world.

[Source(s): Free Wheelchair Mission,]