British designer's wheelchair innovation wins $1 mn Toyota prize

WION Web Team
London, London, UK (Great Britain) Published: Dec 18, 2020, 12:27 PM(IST)

Phoenix I Photograph:( Others )

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Andrew Slorance, who uses a wheelchair himself, won the prize money in the Toyota-run global Mobility Unlimited Challenge.

A Scottish designer has won $1 million (£753,000) to fund the manufacture of his innovative smart-wheelchair.

Andrew Slorance, who uses a wheelchair himself, won the prize money in the Toyota-run global Mobility Unlimited Challenge.

According to the challenge, inventors were invited to submit smart technologies to improve the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis.

Slorance started using a wheelchair 37 years ago after injuring his spinal chord falling from a tree when he was 14. His innovation 'Phoenix I' uses smart sensors to detect if the user is leaning forward or backwards and adjusts its centre of gravity to prevent tipping or falling.

The team of five at Phoenix Instinct used a large amount of 3D printing to perfect the winning design, an ultra-lightweight manual wheelchair made from carbon fibre.

The company, based in Forres, Moray, will produce the Phoenix I in-house to keep it cost-effective.

The aim is for it to cost £4,000-£5,000 and be on the market within two years.

The five finalists in the contest included teams from Italy, Japan and America, with devices such as a hybrid exoskeleton on wheels. Each will receive $500,000 to develop prototypes of their design.

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