While handicap vans have been around for decades and are definitely here to stay, it seems that the wheelchair itself may not alway be the preferred method of transportation for many people with disabilities.
Over the years, we have been watching closely the rise of a new mobility technology: the exoskeleton. This technology has already received approval from the FDA and can be marketed and sold to rehab centers as well as the general public.
From Fantasy to Reality
In the 1960s, we saw the first appearance and the rise of Iron Man. This simple comic book character introduced the American public to the interesting idea behind a mechanical suit that can amplify one’s strength, speed and even allow a person to fly.
Fifty years, multiple comic arcs and even a few movies later, everyone from private technology companies to the US military have been researching the possibility of making these suits a reality. As cybertronic technology continues to improve, it seems that we are getting closer to having these suits available to the general public.
We have even seen a Cybathlon-style olympics for athletes who use these types of mobility devices.
The technology is moving fast, and investors are looking ready to fund further research into creating something that is light, affordable and ready for mass implementation. This industry boom is pushing us towards a new era of mobility technology: one where the wheelchair may not be the primary device used by people with disabilities.
But There are Still Some Obstacles to Overcome
The main problem for now is the current price of exoskeleton technology. Some of these types of exoskeletons can sell for up to 100,000 dollars or more. Even the more affordable models sell for around 40,000 dollars for a single unit.
The second problem amounts to size and weight. Many exoskeletons are extremely heavy and not easy to transport. Although some now weigh as little as 27 pounds, many have yet to come down in total weight.
A Look at the Future
Exoskeletons are a technology that we will definitely keep our eyes on in the future, and we look forward to one day outfitting our vans to be able to transport those who use them.
What do you think of exoskeleton technology? Will it one day replace the modern wheelchair? Let us know in the comments below.