June 19, 2018


Our Innovative and Life-Changing Solutions

QL+ Engineering Students from Colorado School of Mines were tasked with designing and implementing a device to assist Veteran Naval Aviator and QL+ Challenger Captain Danny Knutson and his wife, with loading and unloading a recumbent trike from a hitch-mounted bike rack.

Captain Knutson is an incomplete quadriplegic.  Due to this condition, he has limited mobility in his arms and legs.  He enjoys riding his recumbent trike because it helps him improve his fitness and gives him freedom of movement.  Due to the height of the bike rack and the weight and shape of the trike, loading and unloading the trike is tough and limits his opportunities to ride.  The Challenge was to create a device that would make it easier to get the trike on and off the bike rack.

The team minimally modified Captain Knutson’s existing rack and built an intermediate lift device to lower the rack for loading and to lift it for storage. The existing system consists of a rack attached to Captain Knutson’s vehicle that carries his recumbent trike and one standard bicycle. The lift they created provides a means to assist in loading and unloading of the trike without much effort.

Due to Captain Knutson’s physical limitations, the design must be extremely easy to operate.  Therefore, the team utilized a wireless key fob to allow remote actuation of the lift device.  The device is powered by the vehicle’s existing electrical system.  The power is converted into the mechanical manipulation of the rack to minimize human input.  The lift device involves the use of a pivot system, roller mechanism, lift base, travel platform, and a linear actuator. The device mounts in the existing hitch and replaces the current rack hitch insert. It interfaces with the rack via two pins in a location that allows the rack to pivot vertically for storage.

Because of their hard work and creativity, Captain Knutson will be able to travel to cycling events with ease.  This team placed 2ndout of 55 projects at the Colorado School of Mines College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Capstone Design Showcase!

Thank you, Team, for improving Captain Knutson’s quality of life!

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