Kenguru: Drive-In Car for Wheelchairs


Hungarian company "Rehab, Rt." is showing off this "Kenguru" concept vehicle for the wheelchair-bound. The back flips open and the operator pulls right inside, then putters down the highway using a joystick controller.

I speak Hungarian about as well as the next American, so I have no idea how far into production this concept might be, but I really like it, combining as it does both the efficiency of small cars and mobility for those who need it.

When I was a kid my parents managed a live-in assisted-living facility for mentally retarded and ill patients, so I spent much of my childhood wheeling people around, loading them into the backs of extended vans, and helping them get into bed. It was a lot of fun. I can say with no snark and only fond recollection of genial spirits that most mentally handicapped were great playmates for a young boy. Plus the state often bought them really expensive construction toys that they'd share with me.

It's also where I first learned to get poop stains off of drywall and how to staunch the flow of blood from an arterial knife wound before I was 10, but those are stories for another time. I mention it only to say: I find products and research to assist the disabled fascinating and if you ever run across interesting or clever inventions, definitely pass them along.

Product Page [ via Remikz via Jalopnik]

P.S. I know that "retarded" and "disabled" may not be the preferred nomenclature these days, but having personally seen the labels for those affected change at least half a dozen times in my childhood alone, I just sort of go with what I consider to be the most direct and universal terms. I'm amenable to change, though, if you've got a better suggestion.

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  1. I’ve always preferred “challenged” over disabled or retarded. I work with a number of independent mentally challenged adults and find that term to be both accurate and sensitive. That said, sometimes it doesn’t convey the depth or gravity of a person’s condition, and can seem kind of hyper-PC, especially when dealing with those with severe developmental problems.
    Also: the wheelchair car concept seems great, but how safe is it? Is the chair really secured in the driver’s spot? Is there a seatbelt or harness system?

  2. The “labeling” thing is a dilemma that just goes on and on because no matter what you call people with disabilities — once you use the term for any length of time — it becomes a label and thus the terminology needs to be changed again. It would be nice if people were all just called people. However, because so many people with disabilities receive some type of services and the organizations providing those services need to somehow delineate between the persons receiving the services and the persons providing the services – especially for the purpose of writing policy manuals (which unfortunately have to be written whenever government funding or employment laws are involved…) — it is just a problem that no one I know has been able to solve. The constant in political correctness, however, has been the “person first” language which insists that you think of the person before the disability (i.e., persons with disabilities, individuals with cerebral palsy, etc.). I think that works no matter what group of people are being addressed. I would rather be the person who has trouble with being overweight than the “overweight person.” It’s a subtle difference…but powerful nonetheless. Anyway, I think the wheelchair car is an incredible idea and hope it works. The current driving process which often requires a fairly complicated multi-step maneuver to pull off could definitely be improved. The only drawback I see initially is that there is no room for passengers.

  3. I think that labels – what we call people – needs to be considered within the context of what that person is saying. I’m disabled. At times, to be flippant, I’ll call another person with a disability a cripple. To me, cripple, uttered by someone that doesn’t have a sense of how it’s really a derogatory term, would be offensive.

    But I can only tolerate the various labels a little. I think that Joel’s use of Retarded isn’t offensive, even though the preferred term is (I think – I haven’t checked lately!) Developmentally Disabled. Within the context of his article, I can tell that he’s probably a very cool AB. TAB, actually.

    AB= Able-bodied.
    TAB= Temporarily Able-bodied


  4. “Retard” or “retarded” have kind of slipped into being insulting, but they weren’t intended that way. Mental retardation is still the proper term. It means “slowed down” or “late” and just implies that the person’s intelligence is (significantly) behind the average for their age (and that they won’t eventually catch up). As with most loaded words, it’s all in the attitude.

    Developmentally disabled is more vague and can refer to many different things (including autism and cerebral palsy). Developmentally delayed is almost synonymous, but can refer to things other than intellect.

    Anyway: this car is awesome, and a great idea.

  5. I’m disabled (muscular dystrophy) and I honestly think our community can get too focused on the language issue. I feel like “people with disabilities” is absolutely identical to “disabled people” (the latter is a hell of a lot easier to type) and I think “putting people first” is much more important in practice than on paper.

    “Cripple” sounds like the N-word to me and “handicapable” is nauseatingly patronizing, but the rest is ok.

    The worst result of the constant name-changes is that some ABs are so scared of saying “the wrong thing” that they avoid talking to us altogether.

    Regardless, I’m a happy mutant. 🙂

  6. Wow, this is great! Just a brilliant idea! 🙂

    On the labels thing, here is a comment I made to Takuan in a past thread (we were talking about the word “retard” in this case, but it could be applied to ‘spastic’, ‘handicapped’, ‘cripple’): most words in this ilk, it goes from preferred-medical-usage to common-parlance to offensive (then to ‘ironic’, if you’re a hep intarwebber).

    I think this happens because, sadly, unkind people are liking others to the mentally disabled when they use these terms derogatorialy, not to the term itself. So no matter what term we use correctly, that will be how the unkind person refers to people s/he is trying to hurt.

    So disabled folks could collectively call themselves [insert random string here], and the next day the schoolyard will be ablaze with kids calling each other [insert random string here].

    It’s not about the term we settle on this week, it’s about the sad tradition of making fun of someone by liking them to the mentally challenged.

  7. Back to the subject of cars you can drive from your wheelchair.
    I want to find a small car, that is inexpensive that I can push into and drive from my wheelchair.
    So the ramp at the back cannot be too steep.
    Also something that goes at more than 25 miles per hour like the Hungarian Kenguru,and also because it is an electric car only has a range of about 35 miles before having to recharge, so something that has either unlimited mileage or about 100 miles if electric.
    I don’t think the model made in Japan is available in this country yet.
    Does anyone have any info.

  8. My BIG question in using this vehicle, after viewing the video, is this:

    If, it is EVER available in the U.S. would my insurance help pay for it – as it is in the Country where it was designed? Second, I have a German Shepherd Assistant Dog – once the wheelchair is in, there isn’t enough room for a Poodle, let alone my Shepherd! Where do you put groceries or anything else? The ‘Concept’ is good, but being able to use it to do anything in is seems absolutely useless!

    Maybe the designers should have put more input into this concept – just maybe, they should have consulted with someone who actually uses a chair?

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