Gates Carbon Drive

Belted Blog

The Sand Crawler Project: a Beach Wheelchair Powered by Carbon Drive

  June 4, 2013

The Sand Crawler project represents one of the more motivational and inspiring uses of Gates Carbon Drive that we’ve ever seen. It uses the belt drive to power a beach wheelchair that can go from the sand to the sea.

Beach wheel chair in the water

The Sand Crawler was an interdisciplinary senior project of engineering students at the California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo and the Munich University of Applied Sciences. Students and faculty at the universities worked with the nonprofit Bridge 2 Sports, which helps children and adults who are physically challenged participate in team and individual sports. The director of Bridge 2 Sports is a Cal Poly alum who approached mechanical engineering professor James Widmann to design a wheelchair that works on sand, floats, is adjustable to different heights of users, and, importantly, fits in the trunk of a car and is easily assembled and disassembled.

beach wheelchair on sand

The Sand Crawler is powered by two hand cranks that turn a Carbon Drive belt and sprockets that rotate the rear wheels. The students chose Carbon Drive because a chain would rust and corrode, and the belt requires no lubrication. The goal was to provide users a full and independent beach experience.

Congratulations to all involved in this great project: Cal Poly students Joshua Marcum (biomedical engineering), Sam Coyne (general engineering), Alex Hayes and Rory Aronson (both mechanical engineering), and Alexa Colburn (kinesiology); and Munich mechanical engineering students Marvin Rimmele, Max Hessel, Marco Pietsch and Benedikt Strauss. You guys have a bright future.

Beach Wheel Chair belt closeup

Beach wheelchair disassembled

We hope to bring you stories of the Sand Crawler in use in future posts.