Over at Big Think, Teodora Zareva introduces a revolutionary new car that will give wheelchair users much needed mobility and independence: the Kenguru, designed by a Hungarian company of the same name and manufactured by the Austin, Texas-based Community Cars. This clever vehicles is the first of its kind, the product of an international partnership between Texas lawyer and wheelchair user Stacy Zoern, and Kenguru chief executive Istvan Kissaroslaki.
Kenguru (Hungarian for “kangaroo”) is electric and can travel 60 miles on an overnight charge with top speed of 25 miles per hour. Its greatest advantage is that a wheelchair user can roll into it with a push of a button and operate it with similar ease. As Zoern explains, even though people in wheelchairs can drive regular cars with modifications, one of the big problems is having to get out of the chair and transfer yourself into the car, then collapsing the chair and dragging it inside. This is time-consuming, inconvenient, and physically difficult.
The first model of the Kenguru is made for manual wheelchair users and sells for around $20,000. A wheelchair van runs for about twice as much. The next model will be made for motorized wheelchairs, and will be operated by a joystick, enabling people with conditions similar to Zoern — who have very little strength — to drive it. Currently, the only other alternative for people with similar needs is a specially modified van that can run for up to $100,000.
A piece in the New York Times offers more background to this amazing invention, which is apparently already on the market. With over 3.3 million people in the U.S. alone using wheelchairs, the Kenguru and similar vehicles will no doubt fulfill a great need.