Robotic car built for patients with mobility issues at Ranken Jordan

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The Cyborg Cats recently partnered with Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Rehabilitation Hospital in Maryland Heights, Mo., to assist in the development of modified cars that provide a means of independent mobility that may help the young patients progress in their developmental motor, socialization, and cognitive skills. “As we complete our fourth year of the Westminster robotics program, the Lord continues to bless our involvement in FIRST Robotics,” says Lisa Harding, program director. “The outreach component of the program is giving our students amazing opportunities to change the world for Jesus Christ.”

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The partnership was born when Ranken Jordan contacted the Cyborg Cats about developing a program of their own, similar to the one created by the University of Delaware, “Go Baby Go.” As a part of this process, the team began work on their first modification project. With this first vehicle, the team made a number of adjustments. They modified the controls to ensure that a child with limited fine motor skills can easily operate the car simply by leaning an arm against a large red button placed in the middle of the steering wheel. The team also relocated the vehicle’s power switch for operation only by a supervising adult, which allows a supervising adult to easily power the car off with his or her foot in case of an emergency. The final adjustment to the car included the addition of a padded frame to provide enclosure for the child inside.

A few members of the team presented the motorized vehicle to Ranken Jordan in February and hope to modify and complete three additional cars by the end of the school year. As part of this first presentation, Westminster will also provide engineering documentation to Ranken Jordan’s safety and legal committees to establish a comprehensive program that fully meets the requirements of the hospital and its patients.

“In this partnership, the business development, financial, mechanical, and electronics skills that our team has learned in the course of the FIRST Robotics competition are enabling our high school students to be a part of changing the lives of these young children,” says Mrs. Harding. “We are honored that Ranken Jordan has asked Westminster’s robotics team to establish this program and provide powered mobility to children who would otherwise miss out on the important developmental benefits that come from independent movement.”