The dissertation in electrical engineering won an honorable mention in an international award
An electric wheelchair project that represents an innovation in motorization and technology, developed by researchers from the Advanced Control, Robotics and Biomedical Engineering Laboratory at UEL, has just won an honorable mention at the Mercosul Science and Technology Award. In this edition, research related to Assistive Technology is recognized, that is, it considers the processes of rehabilitation of the quality of life of people with disabilities. The UEL project was highlighted in the Young Researcher category.
Established in 1997 by Mercosur’s Specialized Assembly for Science and Technology (RECyT), the award seeks to encourage studies and researchers that have a potential contribution to scientific development. Another goal is to contribute to the convergence of the Southern Cone common market, spreading technological progress from the bloc’s countries.
The prototype developed at UEL was patented earlier this year, when it was presented by the UEL agency, which caused a great response. The chair brings significant progress in terms of technology, enabling autonomy and efficiency. The prize was awarded on behalf of Professor Willian Ricardo Bispo, who was a Master’s student in Electrical Engineering at UEL, together with Professor Antônio Pires Leôncio Junior. The project began in 2013 with the research of the two. Currently, Willian Ricardo is a professor at the Federal Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR) in Londrina, and Antônio is part of the faculty at Uniube (University of Uberaba).
The model developed at UEL has a three-phase induction and AC motor, unlike traditional models on the market, which have direct current motorization. Chair made in UEL can be actuated by variable blow/suction or system joysticksimilar to peripherals used in computers and video games.
According to Professor Ruberlei Gain, from the Department of Electrical Engineering, from the Center for Technology and Urbanism (CTU), the project was built by several hands, with professors and masters of the course working to develop a prototype composed of an electric chair, whose motor was replaced by three-phase induction and alternating by electricity. The set also has a computer CPU, which houses the software and the overall electronic solution that enables greater autonomy, torque and energy efficiency.
Willian says that as soon as he graduated in electrical engineering from UEL in 2012, he was already looking for alternatives to continue his studies, with an interest in power and control electronics. Antônio already worked in the field of electrical engineering and had some experience working with motorized chairs.
The two met at their master’s degree in 2013. The professors encouraged them to delve deeper into research and development of a more efficient chair prototype. In addition to Professor Gain, the team included Professors Marcio Roberto Covacic and Newton da Silva, both from the Department of Electrical Engineering at UEL.
In July 2014, the researchers completed their studies and applied for a patent for the chair, which was granted earlier this year. Professor Ruberlei Gaino reminds us that the entire research was financed with our own funds, along with donations from friends who understood the importance of research.
The researchers believe that the prototype brings some advantages compared to products available on the market. The new chair contains a software (recorded on the chip) which controls the motor speed. The prototype represents electronic solutions that enable the use of three-phase converters, sensors and panels, which represents an innovation in the technology used.
Research by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) shows that 8.4% of the Brazilian population over the age of 2 – which represents 17.3 million people – has some kind of disability. Almost half of that share (49.4%) is made up of elderly people. The data are from the National Health Survey 2019, conducted by the Ministry of Health. In order to have a dimension of this contingent that needs help, in the age group over 60, every fourth person has some kind of disability.