Engineers at a lab at San Francisco State have developed cool, new, and (most importantly) tough wheelchairs to be used in developing countries.

These wheelchairs are specifically built to go far distances under poor or “tough” circumstances. They are made so that people in other countries can perform their daily activities, such as going to work or school, without having to worry about unpaved roads, rocky areas, mud and sand, or lack of handicap ramps, conditions which are extremely common in developing countries.

Professor Ralf Hotchkiss, who was left paralyzed after a motorcycle accident, is the creator of Whirlwind Wheelchairs.

What began as a unique wheelchair that Hotchkiss created for himself soon led to the production of many more, which resulted in Whirlwind, the line of wheelchairs made for people in developing countries.

Each chair is put through extremely tough conditions, both in the lab and in the rockiest areas in the Bay Area, to ensure that the chair will properly navigate through similarly tough areas in countries such as Iraq, Mexico, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Vietnam.

The wheelchairs are also affordable: all of their parts are produced locally.

So far, Hotchkiss and his team of students and professors have taught small shops in 45 different countries how to produce different models of the Whirlwind chairs.

Hotchkiss has also created a foundation for this project, which he named Whirlwind Wheelchair International. Recently, the foundation gave Iraqis hundred of the newest Whirlwinds for free.

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