Toyota and Segway-inventor Dean Kamen want to revolutionize the wheelchair. Back in 2001, Kamen invented an innovative stair-climbing wheelchair called the iBot, but at $25,000 per chair, it was prohibitively expensive for most consumers and disappeared from the market after eight years. Now, as The Verge reports, Toyota will help Kamen develop a brand new iBot that is more advanced and, hopefully, more affordable than the original.
Kamen, who runs the company DEKA, is a master of balancing technologies. Like the Segway, the iBot can balance on only two wheels, which allows the chair to rise from a sitting position up to six feet, putting its occupant at eye level with a standing companion. The chair can also climb staircases and travel over rough terrain like grass, gravel, and sand. The original chair from 2001 greatly expanded the range of mobility of the traditional wheelchair, but Kamen promises the new chair will be even more sophisticated.
While there’s no word yet on when the iBot will be released or how much it will cost, Kamen says he is dedicated to expanding access to the iBot to a wider range of people. “We’d like to take everything great about the original iBot and then enhance it with 15 years of improvements in technology,” Kamen explains in the video above. “We’ve seen people enjoy the flexibility and the freedom and the independence that an iBot brings that no wheelchair can bring. We’ve known that we have to bring this technology to more people that need it around the world.”
[h/t The Verge]
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