The world’s biggest automaker has partnered with Dean Kamen, the inventor of the popular Segway, to de develop a next generation robotic wheelchair for the disabled and elderly community.
Toyota announced in November last year its commitment of investing 1 billion dollars to form a research centre focused on artificial intelligence and robotics, a five-year plan which also has non-automotive mobility targets. And the latest agreement with Deka Research and Development, the company founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen, is the proof that the Japanese automaker is thinking beyond the automotive world. This deal will support Deka in its plans to complete the development and launch of the next generation iBOT motorized wheelchair, an intention which was first announced a couple of years back, after the company stopped the production of the first iBOT.
The new wheelchair has two sets of powered wheels that can be rotated to allow the user to “walk” up and down any stairs. It allows users to rise from a sitting level to approximately six feet up and travel in this “standing” configuration, being also capable of going through a wide variety of terrains.
“Our company is very focused on mobility solutions for all people,” said Osamu “Simon” Nagata, executive vice president at Toyota Motor North America, who announced the agreement at the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s 70th Annual Convention. “We realize 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.”
This partnership will license Toyota to use balancing technologies held by Deka and its affiliate for medical rehabilitative therapy and “potentially other purposes”.