The iBot is on its way back.
The automobile giant has committed to work with Kamen’s DEKA Research and Development to develop a new generation version of the iBot, in support of mobility solutions for the other-abled population.
The iBot was first launched in 1999 by Kamen. It was a fascinating wheelchair that made it possible for wheelchair users to travel up steep stairways, raise themselves to the height of a standing person and even navigate rough, outdoor terrain. It ran on its own without anyone having to push it, worked using microprocessors and gyroscopes to balance itself, and was essentially “worn” instead of sat on. However, the price was quite expensive at around $25,000 per unit, which didn’t give it much consumer attention. The iBot was officially discontinued in 2009 due to a lack of sales.
Toyota has now seen fit to revisit this design. Osamu “Simon” Nagata, chief administrative officer at Toyota Motor North America, says that,
Our company is very focused on mobility solutions for all people.
“We realize that it is important to help older adults and people with special needs live well and continue to contribute their talents and experience to the world,” he adds.
Kamen is featured in a video where he rides an iBot and explains the vision and reasons why his invention is being brought back to the market.
Toyota is also set to license Deka’s balancing technology for use in other medical rehabilitation solutions. There has been no announcement on price or release date for the new iBots, but potential customers can hope that they will be significantly more affordable than their predecessors.