Engineer and tinkerer Lance Greathouse has worked on life support systems and dental lasers, and he has built fighting robots for the TV shows BattleBots and Robot Wars–all great background experience, it turns out, for building tricked-out custom wheelchairs modeled on military and sci-fi weaponry. His latest, the Dr. Strangelove chair (pictured), incorporates the ejection seat of a B-52 bomber and has two simulated 50-caliber machine guns that run on propane and oxygen.
“It’s got the look and feel of the real thing, but it’s safe,” says Greathouse. Still, we’d get out of the way if we saw it coming at us.
Greathouse, whose designs were highlighted in New Mobility magazine (Nov. 2010), started tinkering with wheelchairs when his late brother Brent contracted a rare form of Parkinson’s disease and had to use one. “I wanted to do something to make [wheelchair users] feel like they’re not just using medical equipment,” Greathouse tells Utne Reader, “to make chairs like custom cars so they could feel cool about them.”
His other designs include a Dr. Evil chair, a tank chair, and a crowd-dazzling flamethrower chair that Greathouse has taken to events such as Maker Faire and, appropriately enough, Burning Man. Learn more at www.greathouselabs.com.
This article first appeared in the March-April 2011 issue of Utne Reader.