Japanese auto giant, Toyota has recently entered into a partnership with the inventor of Segway, Dean Kamen to develop better mobility solution for the disabled and elderly people. Together they will be developing the next generation iBOT motorised wheelchair. For this project the Japanese auto giant will be working in cooperation with Kamen’s Hampshire-based company, DEKA, which was found in 1982. The companies announced their partnership during the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s 70th Annual Convention. Under the terms of the agreement, Toyota will license balancing technologies held by DEKA and its affiliate for medical rehabilitative therapy and potentially other purposes.
Explaining the technology, Toyota has claimed that the next generation iBOT will be a revolutionary motorised wheelchair. The carmaker said that this robotic wheelchair is powered by two set of wheels that will allow the users to do many task that would be impossible in a conventional wheelchair. The special wheels will allow the users of the wheelchair to climb up and down stairs, also the chair can be raised to approximately six feet and allow the user to travel in this configuration.
Toyota and DEKA iBOT Prototype
(Toyota and DEKA iBOT Prototype)
Now mind you this is not a new technology in any why Kamen had launched this stair climbing wheelchair few years back. Sadly due to its heavy price tag of $ 25,000, this made this exceptional wheelchair accessible to only a limited set of buyers. Kamen was only able to sell few hundreds of these wheelchairs in a year and by 2009, he stopped the production as well. Now, after almost seven year Toyota is working to bring it back, this time possibly at a more affordable rate. In fact, Toyota will equip the iBOT wheelchair with the same balancing technology that Kamen used in the previous generation iBOTs.
Announcing the agreement, Osamu Simon Nagata, Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, Toyota Motor North America said, “Our company is very focused on mobility solutions for all people. We realize that it is important to help older adults and people with special needs live well and continue to contribute their talents and experience to the world.” Sharing some similar thoughts Dean Kamen said, “Toyota and DEKA share the same vision of making mobility available to people of every kind of ability. We are excited about this new relationship and excited about what it means for making that dream a reality.”