Introducing Willpower Wheels

In 2014 Team 1014 started modifying toy ride-on cars for children with disabilities.

In 2015 my wife and I learned we were pregnant with a son who had Down Syndrome.

Will is now 9 months old and here is his adapted Jeep,

What better resource to be adapting these cars than FIRST robotics teams, so we created to inspire, assist and track FIRST robotics teams in adapting toy ride-on cars for affordable therapy devices.

Team 1014 is not the only team doing this. If anyone is interested please get in touch with us or with another of those teams. This is a worthy cause and it is fantastic for the mission of FIRST. Kids get to use the skills they acquire in FRC to make a direct difference in people’s lives.


I’m a mentor for team 4118/graduate student at the University of Florida (UF). Myself, students from the team, and members of the UF community have been adapting cars as well as hosting workshops to teach others how to adapt the cars for two and a half years. These cars are used by children as far north as Philadelphia, and as far south as Tampa. Currently we’re working creating a guide to help families adapt 12V cars, something that is not currently supported officially by the Go Baby Go Program. There’s a big issue with children outgrowing their 6V cars and then losing their newfound sense of independence and mobility until they become big enough for commercial chairs (assuming the families can afford them). Our design constraints for the manual are:

  1. Can only require easily obtainable tools (screwdriver, scissors, etc.)
  2. Solderless (crimps only)
  3. Affordable (less than $100, not including the car)
  4. The manual is adaptable to the large diversity of available 12V cars
  5. Safe (all components can handle at least 40A, many cars will break a thermal fuse at that point)
  6. A parent without a technical background could safely adapt the car in under 3 hours

It’s been a really great project for all those who have been involved. So far we’ve characterized current draw of a 12V car under a range of conditions (weight, surface, slope, etc.) The electrical design is complete, and we think we have a pretty good solution. It’s just a matter of getting everyone together, assembling the new design, testing it, and then finally documenting it. The 5th constraint is really important. We want to get to the point where the process is simplified and streamlined to the point where any parent can feel comfortable in adapting a car for their child, making our solution scalable.

Will’s car looks great! It’s definitely one of the more “souped-up” adapted cars that I’ve seen! We just adapted that same vehicle, although ours was the “Frozen” version, complete with a radio that plays “Let it Go.”

Have you heard of They’re a community that looks to connect “makers” with people who have needs in assistive technology.

Team 1719 has also recently gotten involved in doing this type of project. We are working with a day care for disabled children and a local hospital to help connect the team with kids in need.

It really is a wonderful program, and we are looking to help spread this throughout FIRST

Now how cool is that?

Plus, I like that he has his tray right in front, just in case there’s a Sonic nearby. Just sayin’.

Excellent. Yes I have heard of We did a lot of research when we first started doing this in 2014 in how to make modifications easy. Most of the cars we have modified were simpler projects than Troys. So far it has mostly been ad hoc, modifying a specific vehicle for specific needs.

When my crazy schedule settles down a little I would like to PM you and ask a few questions if you have the time. We are trying to figure out how to spread this idea around more. We have been trying to find the best way to document the process. As a teacher it shouldn’t surprise me that some people prefer YouTube videos and some prefer written down step by step instructions. It sounds like you are ahead of us in that respect.