For independent mobility loading systems are the link between wheelchair and car. Mobility can only be seamless if your wheelchair can be loaded into your car quickly and without the need of additional assistance. This way you can shift easily between near and far distance mobility without the need of additional help.
There are perfect systems to get your O4 active wheelchair into your car. For self-drivers or for passengers a wide variety of technical solutions is available. We would like to introduce some oft these solutions here briefly.
Installing a loading system is different for every car make or model. It is essential to contact a qualified consultant before choosing a system. Cars as well as wheelchairs differ in their respective construction. There is no „one-size-fits-all“ solution. Installing a loading system is always an individual process and must be adapted to your specific car model and your specific wheelchair. Only this way perfect functionality and safety are guaranteed.
The installation of a loading system also affects the structure of your car. You need to make sure if technical approval is necessary before you are allowed to use your car. In some countries even a special driving test might be necessary. Contact your conversion partner for details. Usually he can set you up or can take care of these steps for you.
Most loading systems already have been tested and got approved for use with many current car brands and models.
Before making a decision, check out whether your car can be restored to its original condition. This might be helpful if you want to sell you car on the used car market without the loading system later. Since extensive modifications - such as converting a normal door into a sliding door - are sometimes necessary, reconstruction can be costly.
The majority of loading systems are designed for foldable wheelchairs. O4's wheelchairs are all build with rigid frames. But there is a reason for this: A Wheelchair is made for mobility, to keep its user agile and healthy. Everyday life should get easier and an aid should not restrict you or even be harmful to your health. Folding wheelchairs are always a compromise between good driving characteristics (as offered by a rigid frame wheelchair) and being particularly easy to transport. A foldable travel bed is also verry different from a regular full size bed. In which one will you sit or lie more healthily and more comfortably?
But there are also loading systems that can be used with rigid frame wheelchairs as long as the chair is not too wide, too high or too heavy. Contact your handicapped driving specialist and ask for a good solution for your perfect wheelchair.
The Ladeboy S2 by Rausch
The Ladeboy S2 can automatically pull a wheelchair behind the driver's seat. It was originally developed for folding wheelchairs. If the vehicle offers a loading area that is wide enough and there is sufficient space on the back seats, the Ladeboy can also be used for rigid-frame wheelchairs. Limitations are given by the width of the opening available for loading. The Ladeboy S2 usually can load wheelchairs with add-on drives without any problems.
Loading a wheelchair into the car is very simple: After transferring from the wheelchair to the driver's seat, you activate the loader by a push button. To enable automatic loading the rear door needs to be converted into an electric swivel-sliding door that automatically swivels backwards and enables access to the converted rear seat. Because only a part of the rear bench seat that is required for loading and safely storing the wheelchair is converted, the remaining rear seat is available for additional passengers. A separating wall also prevents things that could block the system from accidentally falling into the loading area.
A cradle for the wheelchair moves electrically out from the loading area. All you have to do is push the wheelchair up to the cradle and lock it. Securely coupled, the wheelchair is now automatically pulled into its transport position and locked in place. Powerful electric motors then close the door so that you are ready to go within a few minutes.
When you arrive at your destination, the Ladeboy brings your wheelchair back within reach at the push of a button. So you can transfer quickly even in bad weather. Another advantage of the Ladeboy S2 is the fact that the trunk (depending on car and wheelchair model) is largely retained and can be used normally.
TMN Robot 11 / Robot 3000
The TMN Robot uses a different path: With this loading system the wheelchair is stored in the trunk. Rigid frame wheelchairs need to be stored upright and with sufficient space for maneuvering in the rear of the vehicle. This system is therefore unsuitable for most compact cars.
On the other hand the comfort offered by the robot is unmatched. Your wheelchair is picked up right where you left it when you transferred it to the car. A long robot arm with several joints unfolds from the trunk, reaches around the car and picks up the wheelchair exactly where it stands. Locked with the system, your wheelchair then hovers around your car on an individually programmed path, disappearing in the trunk a few moments later.
The loading system can also be programmed to avoid collisions. Your wheelchair can be unloaded even if another car is parked directly behind yours. The robot arm simply lifts the wheelchair over the hood of the car behind you. Sufficient free space only needs to be available alongside your vehicle to to safely position the wheelchair next to the driver's seat.
With the Robot all seats in the back remain usable. But the trunk can only be used to a limited extent even if no wheelchair is being transported. At least the loading arm must be stored there.
Abiliquip Abiloader FX
A lesser known system is the Abiloader FX. It works similarly to the robot. The wheelchair is also picked up right next to the driver's seat by a long robotic arm unfolding from the trunk.
The Abiloader is not quite as versatile as the Robot. It offers less moving joints. But it is fast: loading or unloading only take about a rapid 25 seconds under ideal conditions. The robot sometimes takes twice as long (depending on the configuration).
A major difference between the two systems is the fact that the Abiloader was developed with rigid frame wheelchairs in mind and might therefore work ideally with most O4 wheelchairs. Conversions with the Abilioader are still rare outside the US. So if you are interested in this model, it could be difficult to find a disability driving specialist who offers the system.
The Carolift 40, 90, 140, 6000 and 6900 lift systems also can lift your wheelchair into the trunk. The different models are suitable for almost all types of wheelchairs, from light folding chairs to heavy power chairs.
With all Carolift loading aids, the wheelchair must be placed right in front of the trunk. It can then be coupled with the system, lifted and swiveled into the rear of the vehicle. These systems are only suitable for independent loading if the user is still able to walk for short distances. But these systems are also helpfull if an assistant usually loads the wheelchair into the car. There is no need to manually lift the wheelchair into or out of the car.
But there is one exception regarding these systems where complete independent loading even without the ability to walk is enabled: Owners of pickup trucks can use the system to lift the wheelchair from a position next to the driver's seat onto the load bed if the lift is mounted close to the cabin.
All models of the „Carolift family“ are basically loading cranes with different load capacities. The wheelchair is lifted and can be swiveled into the vehicle interior with little effort. If no wheelchair is loaded, some models can also be folded down flat to enable minimal effect to the normal use of the cargo area.
BrigAyd and Olympian
The BrigAyd and Olympian systems both work similar to the Carolifts. Depending on the vehicle and wheelchair model, they can be an alternative that may better suit your individual needs.
To sum it all up: The possibilities for independent living for wheelchair users are versatile. And we haven't even mentioned systems such as cassette lifts and ramp systems for vans and large vehicles. Last but not least, there are also cars you can enter with your a wheelchair through the back right up to the steering wheel. These cars can also be used even by multiple wheelchair users simultaneously. So stay tuned: we will also present these systems here soon,
If you just want to expand your mobility range or if you want to use your car independently for family or professional reasons, contact your disability driving specialist or contact O4. We at O4 are in contact with manny people that care about your mobility. Together we will find a solution for all your mobility needs.