Team Members: Morgan Brendefur, Fatema Alhalal, Danielle Glanville, Max Buechler, Saud Alobaidan, and, Yushi Liu
Faculty Advisor: Shirley Chessman
QL+ Program Manager: Court Allen
QL+ engineering students from the University of Colorado Boulder were tasked with the challenge of developing a method to improve portage of airline luggage for use with a wheelchair. Our Challenger, Taylor Morris, is a Navy Veteran and EOD Technician who lost parts of all four limbs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan. The team's main goal was to design for his needs but to improve product marketability, the team wanted to incorporate design aspects that made the device applicable to a range of disabilities.
The project's objective was to develop a method to improve the portage of airline luggage for use with a wheelchair. The hectic, crowded environment that an airport and airplane produce causes difficulties for wheelchair users when trying to manage the transport of luggage.
The team used an iterative design process with substantial user testing to develop a device that safely allows the wheelchair user to operate their wheelchair while transporting luggage freely. Ease of access during the transition through the airport was accomplished by making our device lightweight, easy to use, and easy to carry, while also meeting all airline requirements and regulations.
Many veterans, like Tyler, are known to use the TiLite brand wheelchairs because they are built for performance. When traveling without any device to assist him in transporting a carry-on and checked bag throughout an airport, Tyler currently resorts to placing the carry-on bag on his lap and tows the checked bag beside him. However, this impedes his ability to operate his wheelchair and makes it more challenging to travel efficiently.
One of the team's most important objectives for this project was to design a device that allows the Challenger to maintain their independence while traveling. There are currently several options already on the market that relate to the device the team designed. Notably, the team found devices that utilize an extra wheel, and either cart the luggage in front or the back of the wheelchair. An issue they found with these devices was that they could make turning more difficult since the user has to navigate both the direction of their wheelchair and the attachment. Another issue was that the devices are not compact or in-line with the wheelchair, so they take up a lot more space, making it harder to navigate crowded, tight areas. The team's most significant design goal was to develop a device that allows our Challenger to navigate travel with his belongings with the least amount of physical impairment.
Every design project comes with barriers that will need to be addressed to develop the most effective device. Identifying these barriers requires extensive research and input from experienced individuals. Each obstacle that the team pinpointed had the potential to cause delays in the project progression. Considering that this product will be used in the airport, TSA and FAA regulations must be adhered to in all aspects of the device. The wheelchair luggage system must be able to pass through the security checkpoint. Additionally, the device will need to be able to to fit through doorways and into a handicap bathroom stall. These are the main regulations related to this project, but all rules must be followed.
The intended users of the design are reliant on wheelchairs for their mobility, with the product intended to ease the transportation of luggage. Due to this, the design could not impede the functionality of the wheelchair in any signicant way. For example, the addition of the device can't impair the maneuverability or any functional aspect of the wheelchair.
In summary, our Challenger wanted a device that was easy to use and easy to transport. The device they created is fully detachable without the use of any tools, which makes it very convenient for the user. The collapsed Platform length and the collapsed Telescopic Tube lengths are 11" and 21" respectively. Once each component is disassembled and collapsed, the device can fit into a standard-sized carry-on item with dimensions of 22" x 14" x 9", meaning it can be easily stored in an airline overhead compartment or be checked underneath in the cargo hold.
The total weight of the device is 18 lbs, which meets our goal of being under 30 lbs. The Platform can safely support up to 50 lbs. However, dropping more than 20 lbs onto the Platform would likely damage the screws and is not recommended. Through testing, the team concluded that the device could successfully navigate varying terrains and environments. Finally, the device makes transporting luggage more efficient. Therefore, the team satisfied their project goals.