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High School Students Build All-Terrain Wheelchair

Vietnam is not particularly well set-up for handicapped people. With broken sidewalks and uneven terrain even in the most developed cities, getting around can be a challenge for those who are wheelchair-bound.

Thanks to a pair of local high schoolers, however, there is some hope for Vietnam's handicapped. Nguyen Hoang Ngan and Pham Thanh Truc, students at District 5's Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted, have developed an all-terrain wheelchair which can cover rough and uneven surfaces, helping others get around, reports Tuoi Tre.

The idea came after Ngan saw his grandfather struggle to get around in the older man's hometown. Wheelchair-bound and unable to navigate the area's sidewalks, Ngan's grandfather often stayed at home. As a result, Ngan and his schoolmate threw their energy behind the development of the TN98, their all-terrain wheelchair, which took first prize at Vietnam's 2016 National Science Contest.

The vehicle is operated by a controller and features a sensor which automatically adjusts the chair's position for the rider. Its rubber caterpillar tracks help to stabilize the chair even when traveling over uneven surfaces, and the vehicle is capable of climbing steps with up to a 30-degree gradient.

By Ngan's estimate, the mass production of their TN98 wheelchair would cost roughly VND17 million (US$762) per vehicle, a price which is highly cost-effective when compared to the VND300 million (US$13,449) price tag for foreign-made all-terrain wheelchairs.

For the prototype, Ngan and Truc spent VND20 million (US$896), a third of which was funded by their school. The pair will head to the United States in May to join the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. While it would be nice to win, the duo are more hopeful they'll find sponsorship for their vehicle in hopes of getting the TN98 mass produced in Vietnam.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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