ENTREPRENEUR WINS FUNDING TO DEVELOP ‘SMART WHEELCHAIR’
Andrew Slorance, director of Phoenix Instant and creator of the original Carbon Black wheelchair, is one of five finalists in the Mobility Unlimited Challenge held by the Toyota Mobility Foundation which, in November 2017, launched a three-year global challenge with the aim of improving the lives of millions of people with lower-limb paralysis.
The challenge invited engineers and designers from around the world (eighty entries were received from specialist teams in 28 countries) to submit ideas for new technologies that incorporated intelligent systems, to improve the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis and develop devices that will integrate smoothly into the life and environment of the user.
As a finalist, Slorance receives a $500,000 grant to further develop his concept and the final winner of the Challenge will receive $1 million dollars in Tokyo, in 2020.
In addition to the $500,000 grant, the finalists will also receive mentoring opportunities with engineering experts, attend tailored workshops and work with end users to continue the development of their concepts until 2020.
The Phoenix AI Ultralight is a smart, manual, carbon-fibre, self-balancing, ultra-lightweight, intelligent wheelchair that gets rid of uncomfortable vibrations.
The idea is that by using smart sensors, the chair configures itself to what the user is doing so it remains in sync with how the user moves. By adjusting its ‘intelligent’ centre of gravity to fit the user’s activity, it will be safe from falling backwards, eliminate drag and painful vibrations, and be easier to push and turn. In addition, a lightweight power assist feature will help users more easily navigate slopes, and an automatic braking system will remove the need for users to grip the wheels when slowing down.
A wheelchair user since the age of 14, Andrew now intends to use the grant and the global Mobility Unlimited Challenge to update and modernise the manual wheelchair.
Well here’s wishing you the best of luck Andrew.
Lewis Reed Group
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