The Rowchair

The rowchair is a compact rowing wheelchair, designed to climb steep hills on rough terrain, and to cover large distances with minimal effort, yet to be easily manoeuvered indoors. The chair as pictured here was designed and built by Steve Langton, a musical instrument maker from Queensland Australia. Further refinements have since been made by an MIT team consisting of Steve together with Joel Sadler and Rae Langton.

The Rowchair.

Chris Russell, the chief tester, at his rough Australian bush home, for which the Rowchair was initially designed.

Side view showing the levers. The disk brakes are actuated by a thumb control on the end of the levers, allowing their use for steering whilst rowing.

Close up of the drive mechanism. Ratcheting bicycle freewheels prevent rollback when taking the Rowchair up steep hills. Since this picture was taken a netural gear has been added, actuated by depressing the main levers. This disengages the drive mechanism, and so converts the rowchair into what is in effect a standard wheelchair that can be wheeled forwards or backwards, allowing easy manoeuverability in confined spaces.

Magnets on the front wheels provide a degree of self-centering, preventing erractic steering.

Detailed pictures, including refinements made at MIT (a higher resolution pdf version is available here):

Joel, Steve and Rae:

Page compiled by Richard Holton, Dept of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT

Last updated 18 April 2006