Stair Climbing iBOT Wheelchair v2 on the Horizon

TOYOTA “Making mobility available to people of every kind of ability”

Click to watch the video on the iBOT Wheelchair brought to you through a partnership with Toyota and DEKA.

The iBOT was first developed in 1992 and was a wheelchair unlike any other. It incorporated the use of technology allowing the iBOT to climb stairs, raise the user to eye level of peers, and the ability to traverse uneven terrain.

Originally manufactured by Johnson & Johnson through a deal signed with DEKA Research and Development (inventor of the Segway), the iBOT was unveiled in 1999 on Dateline NBC. Actual FDA approval arrived four years later in 2003.

Unfortunately, in 2009, production of the iBOT was halted due to cost reasons related to the FDA classifying the device as a Class III medical device (the same classification given to an artificial heart valve). In addition, the cost of the iBOT was a staggering $25,000, while Medicare would only pay $5,000. Consequently, the stair climbing wheelchair was put back on the shelf.

In 2011, Dean Kamen, the iBOT’s inventor, declared his support for America’s Huey 091 Foundation’s effort to bring back the iBOT.

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Prototype of an iBOT Wheelchair.

In late 2014, the FDA reclassified the iBOT to a Class II medical device. This new classification allowed Kamen the opportunity to immediately resurrect the sidelined iBOT into a next generation device that he declared would initially be made available to wounded veterans. Kamen announced that the model would be out in “less than two years.”

Enter Toyota Motor North America in the spring of 2014 who then partnered with DEKA and Dean Kamen to produce the iBOT v2. The new generation iBOT will yield two decades of continued research and development, specifically, creating a more lightweight, advanced technology wheelchair that individuals can actually afford.

“Our company is very focused on mobility solutions for all people,” said Osamu “Simon” Nagata, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Toyota Motor North America, who announced the agreement at the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s 70th Annual Convention. “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.”

“Toyota and DEKA share the same vision of making mobility available to people of every kind of ability,” said DEKA founder Dean Kamen. “We are excited about this new relationship and excited about what it means for making that dream a reality.”

Your Town Monthly would like to thank Stevens Creek Toyota for making it possible to produce and publish this article.

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