Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge has crowned Phoenix Instinct, from the UK, as the winners of $1 million for their innovative creation to help people with lower-limb paralysis.
During a virtual event held today (17 December), journalist Sophie Morgan hosted the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge revealing who out of the five finalists would scoop up the grand prize, set to help the winning design to the market.
“We face multiple barriers to mobility,” expressed Sophie, and this is exactly why the Toyota Mobility Challenge hopes to eradicate.
Through creative design, trials and prototypes, the future of inclusion and accessibility for wheelchair users is ever adapting.
The Challenge, launched in 2017 by The Toyota Mobility Foundation in partnership with Nesta Challenges, attracted entries from more than 80 teams from 28 countries and offered a total award fund of $4 million.
Engineers and designers from around the world submitted their ideas for ground-breaking devices to enhance the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis.
The Challenge supported Toyota’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, reducing inequalities for people with paralysis and giving them better access to economic, social and educational opportunities.
Inverness-based Phoenix Instinct won the grand prize with their entry, the Phoenix i.
“Winning the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge is incredible for Phoenix Instinct and for wheelchair users,” enthused founder and CEO of Phoenix Instinct, Andrew Slorance.
“The wheelchair as we know it has been technologically unchanged for decades. The funding we received through The Challenge allowed us to prove smart technology makes for an easier to use and safer wheelchair, with the potential for a suite of new features.”
Set to revolutionise the wheelchair, the design was born from Andrew’s own experience of receiving an NHS wheelchair which was overly clunky and hard to manoeuvre.
Using intelligent systems to automatically adjust its centre of gravity, the Phoenix i wheelchair’s ultra-light carbon fibre frame is extremely stable and easy to manoeuvre.
It uses front-wheel power-assistance to reduce painful vibrations and minimise strain on the user. The chair’s intelligent powered braking system automatically detects when the user is going downhill and adjusts to help control the descent.
Andrew continues: “With the prize money we can now advance this work and bring the Phoenix i wheelchair to the consumer. It’s a very exciting time, with Toyota moving into the mobility sector, we’re going to see significant advances in mobility devices.
“We’re thrilled to be leading the smart wheelchair revolution.”
Signing off the event, Sir Philip Craven, member of the Board of Directors at Toyota Motor Corporation and former President of the International Paralympic Committee added: “Mobility means freedom and liberation from being limited in life.
“As we believe at Toyota, when we are free to move, we are able to fully participate in society, and I’m excited for each of these devices supported by the Mobility Unlimited Challenge, particularly the winning device, because of how it will allow so many people to do what they want to do.
“Here’s to the future of mobility.”
Learn more about the Phoenix i, and the other four brilliant finalists, by visiting the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge website here.