We’ve previously written about the ReWalk exoskeleton. The same group has a new company, UpnRide Robotics. The new firm’s single product is a self-stabilizing wheelchair called the UpnRide that shifts from sitting to upright position and can travel over varied terrain. ReWalk helps people walk who can still move their arms. UpnRide, however, provides mobility and the ability to shift from sitting to a standing position without losing balance for people who don’t have full use of their arms.
UpnRide’s jointed braces and harnessing straps secure users and keep them safe. According to the company, UpnRide’s automatic balancing maintains a low center of gravity and provides safe transport uphill, downhill, and on slanted surfaces. Movement while balanced works equally well while sitting and standing. The ability to move around on varied terrain increases independence and decreases the visibility of the user’s disability. According to the company founder, who is disabled himself, the added social inclusion and ability to interact with others at eye level increase self-esteem and improve the quality of life.
Other potential advantages to users include a reduction of secondary health complications of sitting all the time. UpnRide Robotics claims the cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological benefits of being able to move from sitting to standing positions can reduce hospitalization and the needs for medication and physiotherapy. Next steps include scheduled tests at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel and with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s affairs in New York. UpnRide Robotics hopes its upright wheelchair will get the required approvals for market in 2017.