Make This Product: MIT Students Fix Wheelchair Shopping with "Grocery Mate"

Grocery Mate

Grocery shopping in a wheelchair isn't easy--it requires either holding a cart on your lap or zipping around in a store-owned basket-attached scooter (and leaving the regular wheelchair at the front of the store). Students in MIT's Product Engineering Processes class have a better idea: the Grocery Mate, a basket that attaches to wheelchairs and holds up to 40 pounds worth of items. It's so simple, we're surprised no one thought of commercializing it before.

The Grocery Mate consists of a customizable clamp that attaches to the wheelchair frame, a bracket that fits on the clamp, and a collapsible plastic basket that slides into a bar on the bracket. The basket swings out to allow users to grab items from shelves.

The device, which can be set up in as little as 30 seconds, costs approximately $80 to build. The MIT students behind Grocery Mate imagine that it could be sold for $200.

The Grocery Mate isn't the only creative device to come out of this year's Product Engineering Processes class. Other prototypes include a device for health clubs that washes, sterilizes, and refills water bottles; a consumer-oriented system that quickly measures flour; and an efficient egg-washing system for small chicken farms.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

Add New Comment

5 Comments

  • Isobel Kramen

    Wheelchair users must live in the real world to get to the niches they need. Because of their size, or lack thereof. the carts will be secured inside the store. WC user will have to locate someone who has access to them and wait for it to be obtained. Stores have columns in aisles that impede passage on either side. Many aisles are not wide enough to accommodate two carts to pass each other. Another customer with arms filled will want to know where to obtain a cart like yours--she only needs a few things. Children will ask their caregivers about the device. Ignorant and embarrassed the adult will tell the child not to stare at the person and be quiet. Power WC users have controls on right or left: can cart be turned for either? How high will the WC user need to lift a 5 pound bag of potatoes or gallon of milk? At check out who will reach into basket to unload items? Personally, I take two canvas bags to the store with me. When they are filled I check out. A design experiment is more easily solved than real life.