This week Toyota revealed plans for its second generation iBOT prototype, a wheelchair so adaptable it allows people to climb stairs. The comeback is great news for people who feel limited by conventional wheelchair mobility and could usher in a whole new frontier for balancing technologies that improve people’s lives.

The iBOT originally appeared on the scene in 2001, yet with the hefty price of $25,000 it was out of commission by 2009, according to The Verge. The iBOT 2.0 will feature the same functions, but with a slimmer design and a keener eye to the device’s mechanics. Users will be able to position the chair to roll on two wheels at eye level with their peers. The chair can also climb stairs and navigate challenging terrain.

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Toyota’s partnership with DEKA, a company owned by Segway inventor Dean Kamen, led to the reimagined device. Osamu Nagata, Toyota Motor North America’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer, said, “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.”

The agreement between the companies allows Toyota to license balancing technologies from DEKA for the development of “medical rehabilitative therapy and potentially other purposes.” It is not known how much the iBOT 2.0 will cost, but continuing development of such devices only means the public will soon have access to more affordable mobility assistance.

+Toyota

Via The Verge

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