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Calling all Innovators: on your marks for Toyota’s $4m global Mobility Unlimited Challenge

The Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, has launched an initiative designed to change the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis. New international research shows that nine out of ten wheelchair users experience pain and discomfort caused to them by their mobility device. Responding to technological advances around the world, the $4m global Mobility Unlimited Challenge is calling on teams of innovators to create game-changing technology that will help radically improve the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis.

The Challenge is open to all designers, engineers and technologists. Mobility solutions of the future could potentially encompass anything and everything from exoskeletons to artificial intelligence and machine learning, and from cloud computing to batteries. Given the strong ecosystem for sport, physical activity and innovation that exists in Lausanne and the surrounding region, ThinkSport actively encourages Swiss start-ups, businesses and academics to come forward, with some exciting projects in this field having already been unveiled at last month’s inaugural edition of THE SPOT. The deadline for submitting entries is 15 August 2018.

The Challenge’s organisers have asked people with lower-limb paralysis around the world to have their say about the inventions they want to see, using the hashtag #MyMobilityUnlimited. Many excellent suggestions have already been made. These include modular wheelchairs to which elements such as different wheels for playing sports or Wi-Fi office plug-ins can be added or changed; more affordable exoskeletons; wheelchairs that can move on any terrain; and devices that move more comfortably and naturally with your body, with the possible assistance of AI. Innovators, get on your marks!

A panel of expert judges will select five finalists, who will each receive $500,000 to help them develop their concepts and take them from intelligent insight to prototype. The Challenge winner will receive $1,000,000 in funding to make the device available to users.

Julie Ann Burandt, Global Communications Manager at the Toyota Mobility Foundation, said:
“Personal mobility devices can help overcome some major barriers in life for people, however, at present they do not fully meet the needs of user’s due to limitations in functionality and usability. We know people could benefit from technologies and innovations from outside the assistive technology field, as well as from greater support to those in the field. That is exactly what we want to do with the Mobility Unlimited Challenge, and hopefully change people’s lives.”

The winning concept will be unveiled in Tokyo in 2020.

Learn more here.

Mobility Unlimited Challenge Launch Film