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The ‘go-anywhere’ wheelchair

John Ross (1961) studied mechanical engineering at St John’s and has enjoyed a long career in mechanical design. Shortly before his retirement he set about the challenge of designing a ‘go-anywhere’ wheelchair for the partner of a Johnian friend. John founded the company IGAN (I Go Anywhere Now) with colleagues, and he introduces the resulting mobility vehicle.

Powered wheelchairs are a common aid for people with mobility challenges. Some wheelchairs can negotiate kerbs or small steps but are not designed for flights of stairs. Existing stair-climbing chairs position the user facing downhill, which is a major detraction from the design. Over the last four years, my colleagues and I have worked to develop a mobility vehicle (MV) that enables people to have greater control over their lives. We believe that the potential market for such a versatile vehicle is significant.

John testing the MV

Our electrically-powered MV design uses tracks, rather than wheels, to climb and descend staircases and cover sloping ground. The user faces forward at all times. It is sufficiently compact to fit through doorways and corridors in a standard house and can be transported in a large estate car. Here are a few of the key features:

Compact design with a low centre of gravity

A fundamental requirement is for the centre of gravity of the vehicle and the user to fall within the footprint of the vehicle. This is achieved by pivoting the seat as close to the ground as possible. Linear actuators ensure that the seat remains horizontal in both pitch and roll. At the front and rear of the vehicle there are devices which extend the footprint when negotiating stairs. These features keep the MV sufficiently compact.

Moving safely from a horizontal surface to a staircase

The MV shifts between horizontal surfaces and staircases with the use of a hinged plate on the underside of the chassis. The plate prevents the vehicle from tipping and aligns it to the slope of the stairs.

Adjustable seat

The seat can be raised, tilted or tipped back completely for ease of transportation.


A joystick controls the direction of the vehicle and there are two speed options.

Having proven the design with a working prototype, my colleagues and I are now seeking an individual or company to buy the concept and make it commercially successful. To the best of our knowledge this product is unique and has the potential to transform people’s lives.

Watch a video about the MV, and contact John Ross on: