Toyota has chosen five finalists in a $4 million contest to devise the best motorized wheelchair of the future.
The finalists in the “Mobility Unlimited Challenge” were announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The three-year challenge called for engineers, innovators and designers to rethink the conventional wheelchair and come up with new ideas that would make traveling by wheelchair easier and more convenient in the future, Forbes reported. The contest is sponsored by the Toyota Mobility Foundation and global innovation foundation Nesta.
Here is an outline of the five finalists:
- “Moby” by Italdesign is a wheelchair-share system that uses an app, much like bike- or scooter-sharing systems in urban areas. The idea is that a series of wheelchairs will make commuting simpler.
- “Qolo” (Quality of Life with Locomotion), a Japanese invention, is a mobile exoskeleton-on-wheels that helps users sit and stand and travel in a standing position. The hands-free device is controlled using the upper body.
- “Evowalk” by U.S. company Evolution Devices uses leg wraps to stimulate the correct muscles at the right time to help improve mobility and to rehabilitate muscles over time.
- “Quix” by U.S. company IHMC & MYOLYN is a powered exoskeleton that offers upright mobility using modular actuation, perception technology and control algorhithms.
- “Phoenix Ai” from United Kingdom-based Phoenix Instinct is an ultra-lightweight, self-balancing, intelligent wheelchair that uses smart sensors to automatically re-configure depending on how the user is moving.
“These five finalists have shown real innovation driven by human-centered design,” said Ryan Klem, director of programs at the Toyota Mobility Foundation. “We think that the technology incorporated in these devices could change the lives of a huge number of people around the world, not just for those with lower-limb paralysis, but also those with a wider range of mobility needs.”
The contest offered ten teams seed funding grants of $50,000, and each of the five finalists will receive a $500,000 grant to further develop their concepts. The winner will be announced in 202 and will receive $1 million from Toyota.