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Every so often, Galil is given the opportunity to support an application that can truly change the life of others. This last spring, Galil was contacted by a group of students from the University of Wisconsin asking for us to help them create SPOT.
SPOT, which stands for “Standing Paraplegic Omni-directional Transport” is a project aimed to help Dr. Garret Cuppels, a 37-year-old orthopedic surgeon, return to the emergency room after a tragic fall in 2010 that damaged the thoracic region of his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Since the SPOT device is to be used in the emergency room it had a specific set of requirements that other standard wheel chairs could not satisfy:

  1. That it could comfortably place Dr. Cupples in a standing position leaving his arms free to perform surgical tasks.
  2. That the design was small and extremely mobile; specifically, that the device could “side-step” or move left or right.
  3. That the system be easily controlled via joystick.
  4. Lastly, that brakes on each of the four wheels be automatically turned on when the device is not in use

These requirements drove the University of Wisconsin team to utilize the unique properties of Mecanum wheels1 and to seek out Galil’s small, easy-to-use, and flexible DMC-4143 four-axis motion controller.
The operator of SPOT will control the vehicle using a simple joystick. The joystick outputs two 0-5V analog signals proportional to how far the user is pushing the joystick either left-and-right and up-and-down. The analog signals are connected into two of the 8 available 12-bit analog inputs on the DMC motion controller. The DMC-4143 is programed to jog each of the four Mecanum wheels motors different directions and speeds depending on this simple operator input.


The multithreaded capabilities of Galil’s products allow both analog signals to be read simultaneously allowing the jog speeds for each motor to be updated in ultra-tight loops. The team also utilized four of the 8 opto-isolated digital outputs to control the brakes. A single command, the BW (brake wait) command, is issued which automatically enables the brakes when the motors are turned off—an important safety requirement for the application.

The team’s use of engineering to assist another in need has beckoned industry wide support and national attention. The SPOT project was recently featured on WGN news which can be viewed at
As the team continues to move forward on their application they continue to receive both help from Galil Support Team and from other industry leaders. To follow the team’s progress or to make a contribution, go to the SPOT’s website at

or their sponsorship page here
Galil owes a special thanks to the University of Wisconsin Team for allowing us to be involved with their project to help get Dr. Cupples back in the ER. Thank you Professor Amit Nimunkar, Michael Konrath, Bret Olson, Justin Cacciatore, Blake Marzella, and James Madsen.