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Vertical assisted movement system

Rombout Frieling, Dyson Fellow 2008

The vertical assisted movement system, Flupper, is a human-powered system for moving vertically between floors that does not require external power input. It requires the user to exert less than a fifth of the effort that would be needed to walk up stairs. 

Developed by James Dyson Innovation Fellow and MA graduate of the RCA's Industrial Design Engineering programme, Rombout Frieling, the system supports the user during the journey and thus, has been found in preliminary user studies to be a more attractive inclusive alternative for users than lifts and stairs. The process of travelling, using the Flupper system allows the user to be supported throughout and involves the user shifting his/her weight between a footplate and seat, both of which use the captured potential kinetic energy created by the system during a descent, in order to propel the user upwards in an ascent.

The Flupper vertical assisted movement system has the potential to promote health and physical fitness by increasing mobility of users who are unable to use stairs. This was demonstrated when a six metre-high test rig was trialled by members of the general public as well as bio-dynamicists, athletes, dancers, choreographers. The results of this limited study showed that the system was easy to use by adults with impaired mobility and older adults who found climbing stairs difficult.

The pace of travel is dictated entirely by the user and in trials we found young fit adults enjoyed the fact that they could race up and down, while adults with less physical abilities enjoyed the fact that their journey was supported.

The Flupper system represents a possible sustainable alternative to lifts, stairs and escalators. Since it occupies only a small footprint, and requires no headspace, it has the potential to be easily retro-fitted into existing over-populated offices and houses.

An alternative application for which the system may be suitable, is as a rehabilitation aid since the use of the Flupper system requires coordinated exertion. The lightness, flexibility and sit-support make the Flupper system a possible low impact exercise or rehabilitation tool after injury.

The system will have the capacity of a normal staircase, enabling time-saving ascent to be achieved without the drawbacks of large footprints or the excessive energy consumption associated with lifts, escalators and staircases.

A patent application has been filed and we are interested in talking to potential collaborators and potential licensees.

Flupper was a finalist in the BraunPrize 2009 shown in the BraunPrize exhibition touring to Germany, Denmark and the USA.

See a Flupper prototype in use here

James Dyson Foundation
James Dyson Foundation

With thanks to the James Dyson Foundation for their generous support.