Helping people with disabilities enjoy winter sports

ABB has deployed an advanced technology innovation in Switzerland to help people with disabilities enjoy winter sports.

As people queue to get on a chairlift at the Klosters-Madrisa mountain resort in south-eastern Switzerland, their height is measured by a laser-powered control system developed by ABB and the ground platform then automatically rises to the right level to allow children and people with disabilities to get on the chair lift seat easily.

Once they are on the chair lift, an automatic locking clip allows the skiers to use the chair lift by themselves. The ski lift also uses one of the most energy efficient lift motors in the world, produced by ABB.

The new chairlift technology, inaugurated at the end of 2016, is the first for a ski lift in Switzerland. The authorities in Klosters-Madrisa see the innovation as part of a program to attract more people with disabilities and access problems to the resort – whether for winter skiing or summer hiking.

Taking part in the first ride, Swiss Paralympian double gold medalist, Edith Wolf said: “I don’t feel handicapped but all the obstacles handicap me. So if you can go skiing with your family and you are together all the time, and you don’t have to get around obstacles, then that makes it an experience and it is so cool for me to be independent.”

ABB Chief Executive, Ulrich Spiesshofer, who also enjoyed an inaugural ride on the special lift, said: “With our technology, we help to bring people with disabilities up into the mountains to enable them to go skiing. We also show what our technology can do in terms of energy efficiency – the motor on this ski lift is one of the most energy efficient in the world.”

The project is the latest in a long history of ABB technology deployment in transport and infrastructure projects in the Swiss Alps.