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Auto ShowsCES 2019: Toyota honors mobility concepts designed to help disabled people

02:08  08 january  2019
02:08  08 january  2019 Source:   cnet.com

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CES 2019: Toyota honors mobility concepts designed to help disabled people© Toyota Mobility Foundation

"What I personally believe is that future of mobility will be in the hands of those who really want to make society better," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said at an event in Athens, Greece, in 2017. Indeed, Toyota has made a lot of noise about its intentions to be not just a car company, but a mobility company. And through its Mobility Foundation, Toyota aims to use technology to improve people's lives.

The Toyota Mobility Foundation launched a $4 million Mobility Unlimited Challenge in 2017, where groups were tasked with creating devices to improve the lives of people living with lower-limb paralysis. As part of its CES festivities on Monday, Toyota is announcing the competition's five finalists.

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The finalists for Toyota's Mobility Unlimited Challenge

First is the Evowalk, from US-based Evolution Devices. According to the device-maker, the Evowalk is a "non-intrusive sleeve which goes around the user's leg and has sensors that track the user's walking motion and will stimulate the right muscles at the right time." Evolution Devices says this not only helps the user walk day to day, but can rehabilitate the muscles over time. And since it doesn't appear to be very big or bulky, could be a great, simple solution.

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Then there's Moby (not that Moby), from a well-known Italian company: Italdesign. This one's made for wheelchair users, with Italdesign envisioning "a series of wheel-on electric devices," which are said to "make traveling around cities much simpler and easier for people with lightweight, manual wheelchairs," according to a statement.

Another lightweight wheelchair concept comes from UK-based Phoenix Instinct. Simply called the Phoenix AI, this chair is made from carbon fiber, and "will configure itself to what the user is doing so it remains in sync with how the user moves," according to the company. This chair will constantly adjust its center of gravity, which should make it easier to push. Light power assist is also on hand to help with ascending grades, and automatic braking takes care of slowing down the chair on slopes.

CES 2019: Toyota honors mobility concepts designed to help disabled people© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Toyota Mobility Foundation

Japan's University of Tsukuba created the Qolo, a sort of abbreviation for "quality of life with locomotion." This device is actually a lightweight, mobile exoskeleton that allows users to sit or stand -- "effectively removing the 'chair' from 'wheelchair'," according to Toyota's statement. The user basically travels in a standing position, controlling everything with their upper body.

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The Toyota e-Palette concept is the basis for a new mobility service that encompasses both ridesharing and home delivery. Boxy Toyota e-Palette concept is designed to transport both people and pizzas. At CES 2018, Toyota is trying to turn the entire concept of the auto industry on its head.

Toyota 's new Concept -i is equipped with artificial intelligence that communicates with drivers and passengers. In keeping with the ongoing mobility theme found at CES , Toyota introduced its new Concept -i – an advanced, artificial intelligence-equipped vehicle that learns and grows with the driver.

Finally, another robotic exoskeleton comes from IHMC and MYOLYN, based in the US. This device, called Quix, features motors at the hips, knees and ankles, and is said to "deliver the mobility, safety and independence that current exoskeletons cannot," according to the companies.

Each of these finalists will receive a $500,000 grant from the Toyota Mobility Foundation to further develop the concept. The winner will be announced in Tokyo in 2020, and will be awarded $1 million to be used to put the device into production.

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This was originally published on Roadshow.

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