Toyota Mobility Foundation unveils five visions for future of mobility
The five finalists in the three-year Mobility Unlimited Challenge have been unveiled at CES in Las Vegas. The Toyota Mobility Foundation launched the $4 million global challenge in 2017 in partnership with Nesta's Challenge Prize Centre, with the aim of improving the lives of millions of people with lower-limb paralysis.
The challenge invited engineers, innovators, and designers from across the world to submit designs for game-changing technologies, incorporating intelligent systems, to improve the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis. Central to the challenge is the importance of collaboration with end-users to develop devices that will integrate seamlessly into users’ lives and environments, while being comfortable and easy to use, enabling greater independence and increased participation in daily life.
Each of the five finalists will receive a grant of $500,000 to develop their concept further, with the final winner of the challenge receiving $1 million in Tokyo in 2020. The five finalists are:
- The Evowalk: Evolution Devices (United States) A non-intrusive sleeve that goes around the user’s leg and has sensors that track the user’s walking motion and will stimulate the right muscles at the right time to improve mobility.
- Moby: Italdesign (Italy) An integrated network of wheel-on powered devices, allowing users of manual wheelchairs the convenience and benefits of a powered chair, accessible via an app-based share scheme.
- Phoenix Ai Ultralight Wheelchair: Phoenix Instinct (United Kingdom) An ultra-lightweight, self-balancing, intelligent wheelchair that eliminates painful vibrations.
- Qolo (Quality of Life with Locomotion): Team Qolo, University of Tsukuba (Japan) A mobile exoskeleton on wheels, allowing users to sit or stand with ease.
- Quix: IHMC & MYOLYN (United States) A highly mobile, powered exoskeleton offering fast, stable, and agile upright mobility.
In addition to the $500,000 grant, the finalists will attend tailored workshops, receive mentoring opportunities with engineering experts, and collaborate with end users to further the development of their concepts through to 2020.
Ryan Klem, Director of Programs for Toyota Mobility Foundation, said, "These five finalists have shown real innovation driven by human-centered design. We think that the technology incorporated in these devices could change the lives of a huge number of people around the world, not just for people with lower-limb paralysis, but also those with a wider range of mobility needs. It will be fascinating to follow the teams' journeys and see how the $500,000 grant will help them develop their ideas to bring to market and get them into users' hands."
To ensure entries from organizations of all sizes, the challenge also offered ten teams seed funding in the form of $50,000 Discovery Award grants during the entry period. Of the ten Discovery Award winners, four went on to be selected as finalists.