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It’s not the first ever developed wheelchair in history, but it definitely is the best answer to one of the disabled people’s major concerns.

Self-Balancing Wheelchair
Photo Courtesy: Scalevo/YouTube

Stairs are the number one enemy of wheelchair users. And though ramps are made for them, not all places and buildings are equipped with it. Sometimes even, existing structures are built in a way that it’s impossible to retrofit a ramp safe for people to use.

Introducing the Scalevo, a wheelchair designed by engineering and industrial design students that enables users to go up the stairs without assistance!

Self-Balancing Wheelchair
Photo Courtesy: Scalevo/YouTube

The Scalevo is different from other electric models in that it operates with only two wheels using the gyroscopic technology. It is a similar mechanism found in Segways, which allows the wheelchair to balance itself automatically on two wheels. This feature also makes it easier for users to turn around and change direction without difficulty. On level grounds, the Scalevo can run up to 10km/h or 6.2 mph.

And when a user needs to climb the stairs? This wheelchair brings down its caterpillar tracks that can climb and go down slopes of 17 to 34 degree angles. It can also climb as fast as one step per second, though not shown in the demo video below.

The Scalevo chair is a perfectly safe vehicle to use on stairs. Because caterpillar tracks have a wide ‘footprint’, the wheelchair remains stable and almost impossible to tilt. Even the type of stairs is not a problem. Whether it is wood, metal or glass, users won’t have to worry since its tracks can grip and adapt to the profile of the stairs, preventing the chair from slipping.

Self-Balancing Wheelchair
Photo Courtesy: Scalevo/YouTube

In an interview with the Reuters, ETH Zurich engineering student Miro Voellmy summarized the stair climbing features of the Scalevo, “The great thing is that everything on this wheelchair is automated. If I want to climb the stairs I can just drive up to them, turn around, press one button and all I have to do is control the velocity I want to drive at. The alignment on the stairs, the leveling of the wheelchair driver, is automated and he can control it, he can view the back with a back facing camera, and have a full, safe, driving experience.”

Though the wheelchair is not available in the market, the Scalevo group are now looking at ways to make the prototype more affordable for everyone!

Watch this video to see the Scalevo chair in action:


  1. As a chair user I find this very exciting!
    However, I don’t like the fact that I’d have to go backward up the stairs, even with a camera to see with, I really hate going backwards anywhere in public because I don’t feel safe or totally in control of my surroundings. If it is easy to change directions with and self leveling, it’d be better if the direction using stairs (up or down) could be changed to forward facing.
    This sounds like something perhaps designed by non users because they’ve bought into (or seen too many times) the hospital routine of going backwards with patients into elevators. With modern equipment that is no longer necessary in Any building, but it just keeps hanging around (for their legal comfort probably). Maybe I’m the only one this bothers.
    All in all though, I am so glad you thought of making a chair that can go very safely over rough terrain and stairs! This gives wheelchair users back even more freedom that has been lost -because not every place one wants to go has a path, ramp or elevator. Any of the few times I have experienced that type of independence, I feel such joy & or happiness that I can’t think how to describe it to anyone! I truly thank you and hope it will be available soon! {financially to both working & non working disabled people adult and child, we all could benefit!}