Toyota is calling on all wheelers, inventors, designers, and engineers who have an idea to improve mobility to submit their idea to the company. The Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Center, has launched the Mobility Unlimited Challenge, a $4 million challenge intended to spur the development of assistive technologies that will radically improve mobility and independence of people with paralysis across the globe.
Toyota has declared that the challenge will last for three-years and will be open to entrants across the globe. The challenge was launched at a press conference in Los Angeles, California, on November 16, 2017. There are several prize categories in the challenge such as the discovery awards of $50,000 that will go to support small, early-stage inventors so that they can enter the challenge. The deadline to enter the discovery awards challenge is February 7, 2018.
The next stage of the challenge is the finalist award where five awards of $500,000 will go to the teams who develop the best prototype. The finalists in this secondary category will be announced in January of 2019. This stage will produce the winner who will be awarded $1 million, the finalist team whose prototype device best meets the challenge statement will win this stage. The winner will be named in September 2020.
If you have an idea for mobility improvement and would like to bring the dream into reality, then you should consider submitting. After all, most of the paradigm shifts in mobility for wheelchair users have come from wheelchair users themselves. This includes the invention of the first folding wheelchair and first power wheelchair, made by Everest & Jennings, as Herbert Everest was a wheelchair user due to a mining accident. The first ultralight rigid-chair, the Quadra, was invented by Jeff Minnebraker, a recreational therapist and paraplegic. Sunrise Medical’s Quickie was created by Marilyn Hamilton, a paraplegic. And Kuschall was designed by Rainer Kuschall, a quadriplegic. The list goes on and on.
The Toyota Mobility Foundation was formed by Toyota in 2014 with the goal of enabling more people to go more places by sharing knowledge and partnering with others and their innovations to build a more mobile society. The Nesta Challenge Prize Center is a global innovation foundation that uses prizes to stimulate innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
Other Nesta Challenge Prizes include "The Inclusive Technology Prize" a challenge prize that encouraged innovations to enable people with disabilities equal access to opportunities in life and was won by an invention called Azule Joe, which is a free augmentative communication software (think Stephen Hawking) that will run on laptops, iPads and Kindles.
I think it is exciting to think of the design innovations that may result from such a well supported challenge. Start thinking and get the funding to make the world a better place.
Photo Credit: Toyota