Innovative carbon fiber wheelchair wins $1 million prize from Toyota

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Toyota Mobility announced a prize money winner in its international mobility competition that challenged people around the world to come up with solutions to improve the lives of folks with lower limb paralysis. Finalists from Japan, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. were considered, but Phoenix Instinct from the U.K. ended up walking away with the $1 million prize money.

The winning product? An ultra-light carbon fiber wheelchair with some innovative features. It’s called the Phoenix Instinct, and it aims to advance the generally stagnant wheelchair technology industry to make it easier and safer to use. The wheelchair uses a leveling system to automatically adjust its center of gravity and make it more stable/easier to maneuver. A power assist feature is implemented on the front wheels in an effort to reduce vibrations through the body. Finally, it uses an intelligent power braking system that can automatically detect when you’re going downhill, then adjust the wheelchair’s speed and manage its descent. 

Phoenix’s carbon fiber design got our attention, too. There’s no exact weight quoted for the wheelchair, but its material choice surely helps minimize weight to make it competitive against what’s on the market today. With this new funding from Toyota, Phoenix says it has the money to bring the wheelchair to the consumer market.

In case you were curious about the other finalists, Toyota provided renderings and short descriptions for all of them. You can see the photos and read short descriptions of the last four finalists listed below:

The Evowalk: A wearable device that goes below the knee to support your muscles at the right time by aiding in rehabilitating walking and preventing falls for people with foot drop.

Qolo: A standing or sitting device that integrates wheelchair and exoskeleton technologies into one.

Quix: A powered exoskeleton that enables fast, stable and upright mobility.

Wheel-i: An electric rideshare mobility vehicle for wheelchair users that is both electric and semi-autonomous.

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