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Wheelchair-Accessible Model X

Wheelchair-Accessible Model X

Hey people,

I'm a teen from Canada and I've been a Tesla fan for several years. I have a muscular condition that in short confines me to an electric wheelchair permanently. Now that I have the option to get my driver's license, I'm faced with a unique problem. The only available vehicles that are able to be converted to accommodate an electric wheelchair are minivans (yuck) and large vans such as Sprinters and Transits (seriously?). I could get a pickup, but meh. As a self-respecting and sane teen, these options are definitely off the table. But the Model X is a different story.

I will be able to drive, but I will require a joystick and button control as opposed to a steering wheel and pedal system. I figured that since Teslas are completely computerized, they would be easier to tie into a joystick control, not unlike controlling the car with a Xbox controller. I think it would be best to have me sitting in place of the front passenger seat for two reasons. First of all, I would be able to parallel-park by a sidewalk downtown and get out of the car onto the sidewalk as opposed to driving out into traffic. That would not end well, I would assure you. Second of all, if I had one set of controls specifically made for me on the passenger side of the car, the driver's side would still function as designed and would be able to be driven by a normal human. Also, because I will not be able to reach the huge touch screen in the center of the cabin, I have two options. One option would be to have a secondary display in front of me on the passenger dashboard, ideally the screen from a Model 3. Another option, which might be easier to do but not would not work as well would be to have a touchpad and keyboard beside the joystick. This may not work as well. On top of all this, I was thinking of entering the car via a small lift (see https://www.atconversions.com/). This would require a hydraulic system that would take the place of the rightmost second-row seat.

Obviously, Teslas are ideal for my situation. Autopilot would help me out if my arm tired out, the camera array would help me to see what I can't b/c of low neck range-of-motion, and autopark would help me with precision stuff (although I consider myself a pretty awesome wheelchair driver - just sayin').

I've tried to contact Elon thru Twitter and I've tried to connect to all of the VPs on LinkedIn. None of these have succeeded. I don't know what I'm going to do... Please leave ideas, comments or other stuff below - & if you're good Tesla people like I am, please make some noise about this on your social media channel of choice.

Thanks,

Aaron

Tropopause | September 29, 2017

Aaron,

I hope you can find some resolution so that you may enjoy a Tesla of your own. Maybe one of the conversion companies would be able to help you? There are many bright folks on this forum who also might have some insight.

Aaron McElwee | September 29, 2017

Hey @Tropopause,

Thanks for your comment. Do you know of any way to contact someone at Tesla in order to see how feasible the whole thing is?

bob | September 29, 2017

I'm thinking this would be a project for a shop like Counts Customs in Vegas or Chip Foose in So. Cal. (featured on the Velocity channel).

I'd also go to a Honda or other minivan dealer and see who they typically sub that type of modification to. Then contact that shop directly and see if they'd consider doing the mods to a MX.

Maybe contact the lift manufacturer and see if they know of anyone who's done mods to an MX.

It actually sounds like a challenging but interesting puzzle to try and solve. Good luck with your project. Hope your able to figure a way to make it work with an MX

Aaron McElwee | September 29, 2017

Sounds good, @Bob. Thanks for the advice. I'll look into that!

bob | September 29, 2017

@Aaron - in case you missed it ckcland2 posted some excellent links on the Hang out thread

Tâm | September 30, 2017

@Aaron McElwee

Paravan Robot 3000: The robotic arm would take your wheelchair from Model S trunk and extend it out to driver. See Youtube demo.

https://electrek.co/2016/05/02/tesla-model-s-paravan-wheelchair-robot-arm/

I imagine it would adapt for passenger side and most cars including Model X as well.

https://www.paravan.de/en/product-solutions/driving-with-a-disability/pa...

Tâm | September 30, 2017

@Aaron McElwee

Autopilot requires a competent driver to quickly react and correct the automation at all times. There have been reports of Autopilot accidents happening to good drivers as well.

When you are tired, you should not use Autopilot because your response time to correct when the system drives incorrectly.

Remember just like in airline, whenever there's an Autopilot accident, the fault is always on the driver even if it's the limitations of the system such as hardware or software and Tesla routine answer would be: "It works as designed. Nothing's wrong with it..."

I am not sure Tesla would want to transfer that risk to a joy-stick operation for you. I think it's technological possible but it would take more resources, hiring and time diverted to that department.

Instead, I think Tesla is trying to focus Full Self-driving Capability.

elvnga | September 30, 2017

As a physician, I often deal with patients who can not drive due to age or seizure disorders. I have been thinking about the implications of full safe driving on their independence when it is available. Because that situation is so much more common, and because it in line with existing goals, and because it will make your situation somewhat moot, I think this is likely to be the priority for Tesla. I do not know, but I think most vehicle modifications are after market, and do not involve the primary manufactuer in any case. That way, you get the expertise who do this all the time. So I would look for advise from those shops.

In your post you mentioned leaving the driver's side intact for use by a "normal human". Trust me, there is no such thing as "normal." All the variety is what makes life interesting and challenging and inspiring.

Vawlkus | October 2, 2017

Hmmm....... I wonder if there’s another option for Teslsa.

Teslas already have limited remote control built into their cars from the Summon software. I wonder if an enhanced version would work for you. Start with reworking either the trunk or the Falcon Wing doors to accommodate the lift your wheelchair would need, then build in essentially a PC gaming wheel so all your controls are movable. Mobile touchscreen phone can take the place of the main touchscreen and pass commands that way.

About the only worry I would have is centered around the lift system. I don’t know how easy it would be to add that to a Tesla: does the design of the body preclude adding one?

bijanlotfi | May 3, 2018

Hey Aaron!
I know the struggle buddy, I broke my neck in 2012 and things haven't been the same as mobility and reach go.

I'm still able to do transfers towards the drivers seat, so I needed something to take my chair in and out of the car!
it exists, and it's german!
https://vimeo.com/245514822

TSammy | May 4, 2018

Aaron, good to here you are taking the initiative on this and I wish you all the luck that you can get.

For starters, try to get a UK model for your Model X... their driver seat is on the right and being Canadian you should not encounter extra tariffs.

Since you are not a current owner, you cannot "escalate' your email up the line...my suggestion is that you go directly to the Service Center Manager and ask him to run your email about joystick usage up the line....

Who knows, he/she might be interested enough to stay in the loop with you.

Blueskies | May 7, 2018

Don't underestimate the difficulty of transferring from wheelchair height to Tesla X seat height, driver's or passenger. Even set at Very Low, the driver's seat is both prohibitively high AND farther from the door jam than a transfer board can help you comfortably cover, and you have to get your rear end over the substantial seat bolster. Worse yet, whenever the driver's seat is left in a raised position, you can't lower it with the phone app; you can only lower it via the touchscreen, and you have to already be in the car to do that. The steering wheel doesn't lock, so it is of very little use to brace yourself or to grip and pull yourself up and into the driver's seat. There is simply nowhere to put your chair after you get in; there is very little room over the folded second row seat. You'd mangle upholstery over time trying to put it on the floor behind the driver's seat; there is simply no room where you really need it as a wheelchair guy like myself. Removing that seat section behind the driver is not recommended by Tesla, software updates won't succeed if you DO remove it. Sorry to be so negative, but all I know is what I see with my own eyes... Until Tesla offers a nice 2-seat cargo model X, I don't see Tesla as a practical option for an owner like myself in a wheelchair. (For the love of god, please nobody forward the video of the ludicrously complicated gizmo that pulls the wheelchair from outside the driver's door into the back of a van, I've seen enough of it.) Pull your chair into place to exit the driver's door, and the stinking driver's door keeps trying to close itself over and over again. Twice I've hauled my fat rear into place, only to realize I left the charger plugged in, (totally my own fault, yes) -necessitating another agonizing exit and entrance. There is an unbelievable wire harness going to the second row seat in the 5-seat model X.

Don't make my mistake of buying without going at least for a test RIDE during off hours at the Tesla store, and try transferring between your chair and the Tesla at least 4 or 5 times to make sure it's doable. I thought I'd find easy ways to adapt to this marvelous car, but it simply isn't easy. See 5-seat model seat removal photos on https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/removing-middle-seat-from-7-seat...

Blueskies | May 7, 2018

That being said, although it prohibits moving the seal all the way forward (I goofed and sheared off the plastic cover on the hand control device), I am happy with this hand control. Veigel “Basic” https://www.veigel-na.com/products/primary-controls/hand-controls/veigel... hand control on the right side, seat bolt mounted.

It was the first Tesla X install for the local adaptive place, so with more hand control installs on X's, they'll probably work out those details.

Blueskies | May 7, 2018

moving the SEAT I meant.

Blueskies | May 7, 2018

Also, the fine folks at http://www.accessunlimited.com/ in New York state, USA -despite their unnavigable website - offer something called the "Glide and Go", an elaborate personal lifter-upper device to help wheelchair folks like myself get into automobiles. l had the good fortune to talk to Walt, an engineer there, who convinced me that at least there were workable options to get in and out of the seat in a worst case scenario. I just have a strong aversion to adding all that hardware to lift my fat butt up and over 4", and another complicated contrivance to pull my chair in, each at great expense.

I hope my posts help somebody.

uniqueism | August 15, 2019

Hi... I am a folding manual wheelchair user. I can transfer and stand. Also the Tesla apps with the falcon doors enabled me to put the wheelchair right behind the seat and it was the only car and then I found that was electric deck accommodate my foot that the the distance from the pedal gas pedal to the wall is greater than most cars which help me out a lot so I’m actually driving My tesla X. It’s been a number of years since I’ve driven so baby steps. My problem is that the Chargers like the superchargers are not really accessible with the wheelchair.

uniqueism | August 15, 2019

Hi... I am a folding manual wheelchair user. I can transfer and stand. Also the Tesla apps with the falcon doors enabled me to put the wheelchair right behind the seat and it was the only car and then I found that was electric deck accommodate my foot that the the distance from the pedal gas pedal to the wall is greater than most cars which help me out a lot so I’m actually driving My tesla X. It’s been a number of years since I’ve driven so baby steps. My problem is that the Chargers like the superchargers are not really accessible with the wheelchair.

uniqueism | August 15, 2019

Hi... I am a folding manual wheelchair user. I can transfer and stand. Also the Tesla apps with the falcon doors enabled me to put the wheelchair right behind the seat and it was the only car and then I found that was electric deck accommodate my foot that the the distance from the pedal gas pedal to the wall is greater than most cars which help me out a lot so I’m actually driving My tesla X. It’s been a number of years since I’ve driven so baby steps. My problem is that the Chargers like the superchargers are not really accessible with the wheelchair.