A new waterproof motorized wheelchair uses high-pressured air as an energy source instead of heavy batteries and electronics. The chair weighs about 80 lb overall and takes just 10 minutes to recharge, compared with eight hours to charge an electric mobility device.

Researchers say the PneuChair uses a simpler design without a lot of electronics and software. If something goes wrong, any of the components can be purchased at a hardware store. Using air instead of a typical battery has several advantages: a shorter recharge time, easier maintenance, lighter weight, and a waterproof design.

The maximum distance on one fully charged tank is around three miles, about a third of the distance an electric chair can travel before it needs to be recharged. The developers are looking to establish a long-term licensing agreement wherein the PneuChair could be used in a variety of markets — personal care homes, shopping venues, grocery stores, or airports.