Robotics and medical experts in Japan on Wednesday unveiled the prototype of a new hi-tech electric wheelchair that resembles a scooter and promises greater mobility.
Users ride astride the four-wheeled Rodem — rather than sitting in it, as in a conventional wheelchair — steer it with a joystick and hold onto motorbike-style handles while the knees and chest rest on cushions.
The design allows users to slide more easily on and off the vehicle, lessening reliance on care-givers to lift them, the inventors said.
“I believe this is a whole new idea for a wheelchair,” said Makoto Hashizume, head of the Veda International Robot Research and Development Centre and a medical professor of Kyushu University.
“With this vehicle, users can move around more freely and more actively without much help from other people.”