Toyota has partnered up with the inventor of the Segway to develop a wheelchair that can climb stairs, with a revamp of the iBot planned for market.
Dean Kamen’s DEKA Research, which he developed after the success of the Segway, is now getting support from Toyota to turn the 2009 iBot into a commercial venture.
One of the first things the partnership will do, presumably, is find a way to reduce the cost price from $25,000.
The iBot has two sets of powered wheels that can be rotated to allow the user to “walk” up and down stairs.
It can also manipulate the user into a ‘standing’ position, raising the sitting level up to 6ft in height – it can also travel over a “wide variety” of terrains.
“Toyota and DEKA share the same vision of making mobility available to people of every kind of ability,” said Kamen. “We are excited about this new relationship and excited about what it means for making that dream a reality.”
Toyota’s role initially is to license the various balancing technologies that DEKA holds, for medical rehabilitative therapy and potentially other purposes.
“Our company is very focused on mobility solutions for all people,” said Toyota’s Osamu Nagata. “We realise that it is important to help older adults and people with special needs live well and continue to contribute their talents and experience to the world.”