Mobility is essential to our ability to participate freely and independently in society, but so so often we fall WAY short in creating spaces that are fully inclusive. Which means the pressure is on innovators to create smarter assistive technologies.
The Mobility Unlimited Challenge is offering $4 million to support this effort.
“This is the beginning of our Challenge, a three-year journey concluding in Tokyo in 2020. A journey where the greatest minds in technology, design and engineering, from every corner of the world, will compete to make the environment and society more accessible for people with lower-limb paralysis. We know we don’t have solutions yet: this Challenge is about working with the people who can help develop them.” Ryan Klem, Director of Programs for Toyota Mobility Foundation
The shortlist (top 5 finalists from 80 entries) are pretty cool. Check them out!
Pheonix Ai is a lightweight, self-balancing, ‘smart’ wheelchair with power-assist technology to help make slopes easier for the user to navigate and ascend. The design also uses smart sensors to automatically self-configure with how the user is moving.
Quix is a highly mobile, powered exoskeleton that is designed to offer fast, stable, and agile upright mobility. Essentially, it’s a legged robotic system that aims to use a combination of control algorithms and perception technology to allow the user to enjoy a level of mobile independence that existing exoskeletons cannot provide.
Evowalk is a personalized, time muscle simulation technology that wraps around the user’s leg. The sleeve’s sensors track walking motion and stimulate the correct muscles at the right time to improve mobility.
Qolo is a mobile exoskeleton-on-wheels designed to assist sitting and standing while removing the chair element of the conventional wheelchair. The device is controlled by the upper body and allows for hands-free operation so that users can travel around in a standing position.
Moby proposes a wheelchair scheme that is accessed through a simple app, much like popular bike-sharing systems seen in urban areas. It would offer a series of wheel-on electric devices to make commuting easier for people using lightweight manual wheelchairs.
The finalists will receive $500,000 to develop their device and present in Tokyo. I’m excited to see if/how these concepts will translate into real life application.