The TrailRider is an assistive mobility device that brings people together with, and without, mobility issues in mutually rewarding outdoor adventures. Our conceptual redesign aims to further enhance this experience.
By using extensive research and testing to drive design decisions, the Scorpion TrailRider concept focused on improving upon the original product in the areas of maneuverability, ergonomics, material selection, and aesthetics.
The TrailRider is a mobility device, designed in Vancouver by Sam Sullivan and Paul Cermak, that can carry an occupant with mobility issues across rugged terrain. The device is maneuvered by two able-bodied individuals, referred to as “sherpas,” who guide the TrailRider into areas of wilderness that were previously un-accessible for individuals with limited mobility. In a way, the TrailRider takes the concept of a wheelchair outdoors and pushes it to the extreme.
The benefits of the TrailRider move well beyond just providing physical access to the wilderness. There are many positive social aspects as well. Currently, the TrailRiders are provided free of charge, and are lent out by the Alberta Abilities Lodges Society (AALS) to individuals who are interested in the program. The AALS also organizes excursions in which individuals with mobility issues gather, creating a sense of community through recreation.
We became interested in the product after participating in a volunteer TrailRider excursion through Edmonton's Emily Murphy Park. Acting as the guiding sherpas, we experienced the positive social impact of the product first hand. However, we also saw an opportunity to improve upon a great idea and take the concept of the TrailRider to the next level.
We started by conducting in depth research into the product through user testing, surveys, expert interviews, and analysis of relevant and competing technology. Using this information, we created a design matrix in order to prioritize specific areas for improvement. This design consideration list included: rider independent suspension, adjustable front hand grips, a brakes for the front sherpa, and reduced weight.
With this research in mind, we began developing concepts using sketching and prototyping. We worked back and forth between ideas and functional prototypes using a cycle of testing, learning, and improvement. Our final design features: five adjustable rider seat panels with a thin layer of honeycomb foam allowing for a comfortable; custom fit for each individual rider; rider independent passive suspension using rubberized cables that link the rider seat to the exterior frame; adjustable front hand grips with a front brake providing a more ergonomic, safer experience for the front sherpa; a modular, lightweight carbon fibre tubing frame that is assembled using anodized aluminum connectors; and a larger wheel with more aggressive tread and disk brake for more reliable stopping and performance.
Aesthetic inspiration was gathered from downhill mountain biking and mountaineering, moving the product from being perceived as an assisted mobility device into the category of extreme sports equipment. The Scorpion TrailRider presents innovative solutions to opportunities presented by the original design resulting in a product that provides a more enjoyable user experience for both the sherpas and the rider.
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