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IHMC a finalist in Toyota Mobility Challenge

FIVE VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY, INCLUDING ONE FROM IHMC, UNVEILED AT CES

  • Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, announces finalists in $4 million global Mobility Unlimited Challenge at CES in Las Vegas
  • Innovators from around the world submitted game-changing technologies to improve the lives of people with lower limb paralysis
  • Finalists include teams from United States, Japan, Italy and United Kingdom, with devices ranging from a hybrid exoskeleton on wheels to a powered wheelchair share scheme
  • IHMC is one of five finalists to receive a $500,000 grant to develop their idea further. The final winner will be awarded $1 million in 2020 in Tokyo

Las Vegas, NV, USA (7 January 2019)- The five finalists in the three-year Mobility Unlimited Challenge have been unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show 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 which 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 smart wearable leg sleeve that helps people with partial lower limb paralysis regain their mobility. The EvoWalk AI system uses sensors to predict the user’s walking motion and stimulates the right muscles at the right time to help them walk better.
  • 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 which 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 robotic, powered exoskeleton with motors at the hips, knees and ankles, as well as additional actuators offering someone with lower-limb paralysis fast, stable, and agile upright mobility. Utilizing modular actuation, perception technology from autonomous vehicles, and control algorithms for balancing autonomous humanoid robots, this device will deliver the mobility, safety, and independence that current exoskeletons cannot. The device will improve accessibility in society – especially at home and work.

“We’re delighted to have made it through as one of the five finalists of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge,” said IHMC Senior Research Scientist Peter Neuhaus, who leads the IHMC and Myolyn team. “In the business world, developing technologies for people with lower-limb paralysis has been extraordinarily hard. We’ve constantly struggled against people saying the market is too small and because of that people aren’t putting in the effort, research or investment this field deserves, meaning there hasn’t been enough advancement.”

Myolyn is a medical technology company based in Gainesville, Fla., that is dedicated to improving health and human performance. IHMC is a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System that pioneers technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities.

Eighty entries were received from specialist teams in 28 countries globally.The finalists were chosen by a panel of expert judges from around the world.

Dr. Eric Krotkov, Chief Science Officer at Toyota Research Institute and one of the judges of the Challenge, stated: “There are so many technological opportunities to explore approaches to alleviate challenges stemming from lower-limb paralysis. A competition like the Mobility Unlimited Challenge gets innovators to focus on the same problem to identify something of great common interest that serves society. I am excited by these finalists who have a breadth of technical approaches – wheelchairs, orthotics, braces, exoskeletons. I look forward to seeing how they will take these devices out of their conceptual stage to help our end users.”

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.

Around the world, millions of people are living with lower-limb paralysis (the most common causes being strokes, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis). While there are no statistics on paralysis worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates there are 250,000-500,000 new cases of spinal cord injury globally every year.