LAS VEGAS, Jan 22, 2019: The five finalists in the three-year Mobility Unlimited Challenge have been unveiled at CES in Las Vegas. The Toyota Mobility Foundation launched the $4 million global challenge in 2017 in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, with the aim of improving the lives of millions of people with lower-limb paralysis.
The Challenge invited engineers, innovators, and designers from across the world to submit designs for game-changing technologies, incorporating intelligent systems, to improve the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis. Central to the Challenge is the importance of collaboration with end-users to develop devices which will integrate seamlessly into users’ lives and environments, while being comfortable and easy to use, enabling greater independence and increased participation in daily life.
Each of the five finalists will receive a grant of $500,000 to develop their concept further, with the final winner of the Challenge receiving $1 million in Tokyo in 2020.
The five finalists are:
The Evowalk: Evolution Devices (United States) - The Evowalk is a non-intrusive sleeve which goes around the user’s leg and has sensors that track the user’s walking motion and will stimulate the right muscles at the right time to improve mobility. This personalized, timed muscle stimulation that helps user’s muscles contract as they walk will not only help them day to day but will also rehabilitate the muscles over time.
Moby: Italdesign (Italy) - Moby is the first mobility service created for wheelchair users. It’s the cycle share scheme equivalent for wheelchair users. Consisting of a series of wheel-on electric devices, located in urban hubs, it will make travelling around cities much simpler and easier for people with lightweight manual wheelchairs. Connected via an app, it will enable users to interact with the device, other wheelchair users and other means of transport.
Phoenix Ai Ultralight Wheelchair: Phoenix Instinct (United Kingdom) - The Phoenix AI wheelchair is an ultra-lightweight manual wheelchair made from carbon-fiber. Using smart sensors the chair will configure itself to what the user is doing so it remains in sync with how the user moves. The sensors detect if the user is leaning forward or back, algorithms will calculate the wheelchair’s response. The Phoenix Ai will have many smart functions never before seen in wheelchairs, at the core is intelligent centre of gravity. The chair will continually adjust its centre of gravity to fit what the user is doing making for a chair that is easier to push and turn by eliminating drag and uncomfortable, painful vibration while also making the chair safe from falling backwards. Intelligent, lightweight power assist will make slopes easier to ascend while automatic braking will remove the need for users to grip the wheels to slow down.
Qolo (Quality of Life with Locomotion): Team Qolo, University of Tsukuba (Japan) - The Qolo Standing Device consists of a lightweight, mobile exoskeleton on wheels which uses passive actuators to allow users to sit or stand, effectively removing the ‘chair’ from ‘wheelchair’. Mobility is controlled using the upper body, allowing hands-free operation. The device enables users to travel around in a standing position, changing both physiological and social aspects of everyday living.
Quix: IHMC & MYOLYN (United States) - A robotic, powered exoskeleton with motors at the hips, knees and ankles, as well as additional actuators offering someone with lower-limb paralysis fast, stable, and agile upright mobility. Utilizing modular actuation, perception technology from autonomous vehicles, and control algorithms for balancing autonomous humanoid robots, this device will deliver the mobility, safety, and independence that current exoskeletons cannot. The device will improve accessibility in society - especially at home and work.
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