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Leading Projects That Will Make Life Easier for the Mobility Impaired08.01.2019

The international Mobility Unlimited Challenge is a competition, held jointly by Nesta's Challenge Prize Centre and the Toyota Mobility Foundation, for research and development projects that could one day be deployed to market to provide assistance to everyday lives of people afflicted with lower-limb paralysis.

Projects included in the Challenge shortlist, announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will receive $500,000 to develop their prototypes. The winning designer, to be revealed only in 2020, will receive the main prize—$1,000,000. 

Mobility Unlimited Challenge - Finalists Announcement January 2019

The shortlist includes Moby, a electric-powered vehicle sharing scheme for wheelchairs. Designed by Italdesign, Moby will offer electric pods to people using light, manual wheelchairs to enable them to easily cover greater distances. 

Two exoskeletons have also made the shortlist. The first is called QOLO (Quality of Life with Locomotion), designed by a team from the University of Tsukuba in Japan. QOLO is a lightweight exoskeleton fitted with wheels that can be used in the sitting as well as standing positions. 

The other exoskeleton, Quix, was designed by two US-based groups: IHMC and Myolyn. Quix is a wheelless device powered by actuators located in the hip, knee, and ankle portions of the skeleton. The actuators support lower-limb movement, facilitating walking. In whole, the device offers its users advanced mobility and locomotion.


The shortlist also included a ultralight wheelchair Phoenix A, designed by the UK-based company Phoenix Instinct. Made of lightweight carbon fiber, the wheelchair is also fixed with a sensor suite that detect any changes to the position of the user and readjust the device’s center of gravity, facilitating smoother motion of the wheelchair.

The last design selected for the shortlist is a sleeve that self-adjusts to fit the user’s leg. The Evowalk, developed by a company called Evolution Devices, is capable of non-invasive stimulation of relevant locomotor muscles, facilitating smooth and uninterrupted gait. Aside from mobility assistance, the sleeve is also designed to support lower-limb physical therapy in car accident patients. The Evowalk was designed by Pierluigi Mantovani, co-founder of Evolution Devices.

The shortlisted projects were selected by Mobility Unlimited Challenge’s experts out of 80 submissions from all over the globe. The shortlisted designers now have a year to develop their projects further. The final winner of the Challenge will be revealed in Tokyo in September of 2020.

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