A Japanese tech firm is attempting to improve wheelchairs by changing how they travel and how well they can do it. Nano-Optonics Energy's newly released Unimo electrically controlled chair uses thin, tank-like treads to traverse the ground, which the company claims allows it to travel smoothly over difficult terrain such as gravel and sand that traditional models can't easily handle. The chair can also climb up and down 6-inch stairs, nearly twice as high as what the manufacturer says most wheelchairs are capable of, and it can approach speeds of 4 mph.
However, the Unimo won't be hitting the road just yet: though the device is capable of traveling over 12 miles on a single charge, the company sees the device first heading into medical centers where it could help with patient rehabilitation. The device itself is fairly large and is constructed for comfort more than durability. But the company was able to make the product significantly smaller than other efforts at tank-like wheelchairs, which could allow medical facilities to better take advantage of the technology.