Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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A Small, Inexpensive Electric Wheelchair

Tanner Jensen tries out his open-source, electric wheelchair. (Photo credit: Brigham Young University.)
Tanner Jensen tries out his open-source, electric wheelchair. (Photo credit: Brigham Young University.)

Students at Brigham Young University have built a relatively cheap electric wheelchair for small children. Two of them, actually. The chairs are for brothers with Spinal Muscular Atrophy: three-year-old Tanner Jensen and 20-month-old Skyler.

“Working with the Jensen family made the whole project more meaningful,” said Ian Freeman, who worked on the chair. “We knew we had to deliver a working wheelchair for these boys. It gave us a lot of motivation from the very beginning.”

Motorized wheelchairs for little kids are normally very expensive, running as much as $15,000. The BYU chair is made of PVC pipe, can support up to 50 pounds, but costs less than $500 to build. That price tag includes the electronics, joystick, and padded seat. Plans for the open-source wheelchair will be posted on the Open Wheelchair Website.

“It’s amazing to think how this could help families facing this challenge,” said faculty coach Mark Colton. “This capstone project is one of the most satisfying that I’ve done—and one of the best teams I’ve worked with. These students wanted to do something excellent and not just get a good grade.”



  1. I’m incredibly grateful that engineers, like those at Brigham Young University, built a cheap, innovative electric wheelchair for Tanner Jensen. I’m sure they drastically improved the quality of life for three-year-old Tanner. Maybe now he’ll be able to play basketball with his friends! Thanks for informing us of this development, Kremen.

    Lily de Grey |

  2. What a great way to bring a very important service to very important people for a such a small price. This type of innovation can help more people to be able to afford the services that could change their loved ones lives forever. Making it out of PVC material to bring the cost down to $500 is great. Thanks for the post!

  3. Great for vacations, drives, and other travel, foldable, portable, and convertible electric wheelchairs are easy to bring with you.

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