The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) has developed India’s first indigenous motorized wheelchair vehicle for differently-abled people, which can be used not only on roads but even on uneven terrains.
Called ‘NeoBolt,’ it could help wheelchair users move around independently, not within the house, but to work, to shop, to anywhere. The off-road wheelchair empowers users with a convenient, safe, and low-cost mode of outdoor mobility when compared to cars, auto-rickshaws, or modified scooters.
The motorized wheelchair eliminates the need to transfer into other vehicles and can be independently attached by the user within seconds. All the user needs to do is to strap on a front scooter (the user can do this independently without anyone’s help), and in an instant, he/she is ready to move around the city independently. The user can climb a steep hill with its gradient-supported mobility or drive through the pot-holed streets.
‘NeoBolt’ comes equipped with a sideways anti-tipper and speed regulator for a fearless ride at a desired speed up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph). Apart from enjoying all the frills of a mobike from a digital dashboard, drum brakes to sidelights for higher visibility on the road come with an anti-theft buzzer, so the user stays safe always. NeoBolt is powered by a Lithium-Ion Battery that will allow users to travel up to 25 km (15.5 miles) for every charge and recharges fully in just 4 hours.
NeoBolt was developed by a team led by Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan, who also led the team that developed India’s first indigenously-designed Standing Wheelchair called ‘Arise,’ which enables a wheelchair user to shift from sitting to standing position. The researchers collaborated extensively with organizations and hospitals to develop the wheelchair, working among people with locomotor disabilities, and built the products factoring in their experiences and making constant design adjustments.
NeoBolt has been commercialized through a startup called ‘NeoMotion.’ The startup has also developed and commercially launched ‘NeoFly,’ a personalized wheelchair designed to enhance health and lifestyle. As many as 18 customizations ensure a perfect fit for the user’s requirements.
“NeoFly is the first Indian Wheelchair that is customized to the user. It is built to provide comfort, efficient propulsion, higher maneuverability, and superior ergonomics. The motor-powered attachment, NeoBolt converts NeoFly into a safe, road-worthy vehicle that can navigate any kind of terrain that we may normally encounter – drive through unpaved streets or climb a steep gradient. And do this comfortably as it has suspensions to absorb the shocks,” explains Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan.
NeoFly personalized wheelchair is available at Rs. 39,900 and NeoBolt motorized add-on is available at Rs. 55,000.