The Tank Chair is the brainchild of Brad Soden who designed the chair after his wife, Liz, was paralysed from the waist down in a car accident. The Tank Chair is possibly the most American take on mobility technology imaginable; a large audacious machine coming in at over 450 lbs, sporting 12 ½ -inch wide tracks and the ability to negotiate terrains otherwise unsuitable to wheelchair users including mud, rocks, sand and snow. It can even, Brad assures us while sporting a cowboy hat, be shot at and still function. The Tank Chair definitely is a unique and interesting design and the futuristic, military aesthetic is what undoubtedly appeals to many of the chair’s users.

However, it does have a number of practical downsides. Firstly, the tracks; while they may be suitable for negotiating swamps and rivers actually appear to be less accessible for more day-to-day activities such as going to the shops or travelling on public transport due to their sheer size and the weight of the thing, although in all fairness the chair’s intended purpose is the inaccessible, rather than shops or streets. It is also not cheap with a price tag of 17,100 USD (over 11,000 GBP) which would prevent a lot of people from being able to purchase one.

The Tank Chair seems to be more of a labour of love for Brad and his wife and, flaws aside, it represents a positive development not only in the technology available to allowing people with disabilities to access a wider range of activities, but also in the attitudes to what assistive technology ought to offer its users. Check out the video below to see Tank Chair in action (although, unfortunately, there is no footage proving that it can take a gunshot).  


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Like what you just read? Check out the links below for more articles on bespoken.

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