Refuelling device for disabled drivers studied

24 November 2014

A UC postgraduate student is helping a community-based organisation conduct research into the feasibility of an automated refuelling device for mobility-impaired drivers.

Refuelling device for disabled drivers studied - Imported from Legacy News system

UC Master of Engineering Management student Hannah Martis.

A University of Canterbury postgraduate student is helping a community-based organisation conduct further research into the feasibility of an automated refuelling device for mobility-impaired drivers.

The organisation, SigJaws Trust, acts as an advocate on many consumer issues, including transport, and Master of Engineering Management (MEM) student Hannah Martis is investigating ways to help disabled motorists.

The 2013 census shows about 11.5 percent of New Zealand adults are mobility-impaired drivers, of which more than 50 percent use a vehicle to travel to and from work. Having personal transport offers some freedom and independence.

Martis says even though there are advanced vehicle designs and modifications available for mobility-impaired drivers, for many, vehicleownership and operation is still not without limitation.

"Getting in and out of their vehicle can be difficult and tiring, and refueling can be a slow task causing many to feel like they are a burden or nuisance to others. One in four New Zealanders live with a disability to it is area of significant importance.

"Assistance at fuel stations is not always available or is only gained through drawing a lot of attention, and at times assistance is given begrudgingly especially if the impairment is not obvious.

"Studies conducted by SigJaws Trust in 2007 and 2010 confirmed the difficulties experienced by disabled drivers at fuel service stations and found it was primarily due to lack of assistance.

"An automated refuelling device could be an appropriate solution. Automated refuelling would allow disabled drivers to independently fuel their vehicle and overcome some of their frustrations.

"In 2011, a group of University of Canterbury mechanical engineering students proved the idea was possible using an industrial robot, as part of their final year project. They built and programmed a robotic arm which, aided by computer vision, was able to refuel a car without a driver having to get out of their car. 

"I want to evaluate the target market to produce a viable business plan. An automated refuelling station would allow mobility-impaired drivers to independently refuel their vehicles and would demonstrate that the diversity of needs for New Zealanders are not overlooked. I want to be part of a solution that generates social awareness, fosters change and improves quality of life.

"For non-profit organisations with limited budgets, having access to skilled university student researchers is an affordable and valuable option. Trusts, such as SigJaws, can gain the business services they require and students are able to apply their skills in
the real world."

Martis will present her course findings to industry leaders at the annual Master of Engineering in Management (MEM) event in Christchurch on 28 November. The annual presentation event provides students with an opportunity to showcase their work and engage with the business world.

Course director Piet Beukman says past MEM projects have been influential in the start-up of high-tech companies as well as with well-established organisations.

 

For further information please contact:
Kip Brook
Media Consultant
Student Services and Communications 
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 3325
Mobile: 027 5030 168
kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz