Mobility Unlimited Challenge: And the winner is…

  • Caroline Pradier

    Caroline Pradier

    Programme Manager

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17 Dec 2020

The winner of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge has now been revealed, bringing to an end a three year long challenge prize, which was run by the Toyota Mobility Foundation in partnership with Nesta Challenges.

Phoenix Instinct were announced as securing the top spot with their device, the Phoenix i, which is an ultra-lightweight manual wheelchair made from carbon-fiber. Using smart sensors, the chair will configure itself to what the user is doing so it remains in sync with how the user moves. Sensors around the chair detect if the user is leaning forward or back, and algorithms will calculate the wheelchair’s response. They were awarded a $1million prize, to develop their innovation further and take it to market.

Here is Phoenix AI's story

The winner was announced today during a virtual event hosted by journalist, presenter and disability rights advocate Sophie Morgan. During the event, Sophie also led a discussion about the future of mobility with Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute and Sir Philip Craven, former Paralympic wheelchair basketball player, former president of the International Paralympic Committee and now a Member of the Board of Directors at Toyota.

The $4 million Challenge supported radical improvements in the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis through smarter assistive technology. It was launched to tackle the frustratingly slow progress of assistive mobility devices over the last few years, to help make society more inclusive. While it might be hard to believe, the primary mobility device to help people with paralysis – the wheelchair – has not been reinvented for 100 years or more! The five finalists were announced back in January 2019, and have spend the last 23 months refining their solutions with the aid of a $500k finalist development grant.

Ryan Klem, Director of Programmes at the Toyota Mobility Foundation, says:

“These innovations will have an impact on end users and help shape what the future of mobility will be. Whether it be helping to prevent long term injuries that users can get over time, or the exciting potential for these devices to grow and adapt to the dynamic needs of users like children and athletes. As we continue this journey beyond today, we look forward to continuing our support to those involved and the pursuit of freedom that true mobility can provide for all.”

For more details about the Challenge, head to https://mobilityunlimited.org/

“These innovations will have an impact on end users and help shape what the future of mobility will be."

Two men dressed in outdoor clothes in a woodland area, the man on the left is in a wheelchair

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