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Ultra-Lightweight Intelligent Wheelchair Receives $1 Million as Winner of Mobility Unlimited Challenge is Announced

The winner of the three-year Mobility Unlimited Challenge has now been announced with Phoenix Instinct from the UK receiving $1 million to further develop their intelligent ultra-light carbon fiber wheelchair, bring it to market, and ultimately, transform millions of lives in the disability community for the greater good.

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The Toyota Mobility Foundation, established by Toyota in 2014, launched the $4 million global challenge back in 2017 in partnership with Nesta Challenges, in a bid to drive innovation in the field of assistive technologies for people with lower-limb paralysis in a demonstration of Toyota’s mission of Mobility for All and further vision of producing happiness for all.

The Challenge called for talented engineers, innovators, and designers from around the world to submit their designs for groundbreaking devices, integrated with the latest technologies, to enhance the mobility and independence of end-users. Over eighty teams from 28 countries around the world entered.

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The University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) led the assessment of the entries and provided mentorship alongside a team of Toyota subject matter experts, and the winner was chosen by a panel of expert judges (see Notes to Editors below for details).

Designed by Phoenix Instinct, the Phoenix i uses intelligent systems to automatically adjust its center of gravity, making the ultra-lightweight carbon fiber frame extremely stable and easier to maneuver. It uses front-wheel power-assist to reduce painful vibrations and minimize strain on the user. The chair’s intelligent powered braking system automatically detects when the user is going downhill and adjusts to manage the user’s descent.

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