Toyota is just one of the car manufacturers whose vans are converted into vans for handicap and disability communities. Now, the Japanese car giant is getting into the wheelchair research and development fields, too.
Teaming up with Dean Kamen, the creator of the Segway device, Toyota and its development teams have set out to make a new wheelchair: one that has the ability to climb stairs.
Making Ramps Obsolete
Whether wheelchair users are at home or out in public, searching for a ramp is usually a necessity. It’s why the community goes through the process of finding wheelchair friendly homes, or making the modifications themselves. But what if there was a way to forgo ramps in favor of using a wheelchair that could easily navigate stairs?
That is precisely what Toyota and Kamen are trying to accomplish.
How the New Wheelchair Works
This is the second design in the lifecycle of stair-climbing wheelchairs. The iBOT is a motorized wheelchair that uses two sets of wheels, allowing it to easily climb stairs and even navigate over rough and uneven terrain.
This chair would help wheelchair users go on outings into the woods, to the beach and to many other places that continue to pose challenges for traditional wheelchairs.
The wheelchair can even extend upwards to allow users to stand while remaining supported, helping them to fight discomfort, blood clots and other ailments associated with being in a wheelchair for long periods of time.
Not the Only Company in the Mix
The best news of all is that Toyota is not the only company that is investing time and money into creating a better wheelchair for consumers. According to USA Today, car manufacturer and Toyota competitor, Honda is also working on its own mechanical mobility device for the wheelchair using communities. The devices are geared towards helping people with weak leg muscles walk.
It’s competition like this that could help to drive down the costs of mobility devices, helping them get into the hands of more consumers who need them. There has been no word yet on how much the iBOT will cost, but it is likely to be expensive.
Hopefully, as with most devices, time (along with increases in technology) will bring down the overall cost of the device.
What do you think of the iBOT wheelchair? Do you think they will ever be available to most wheelchairs users? Join the conversation by commenting below!