A Gainesville start-up has been named as one of five finalists in the three-year Mobility Unlimited Challenge, launched by the Toyota Mobility Foundation. Begun in 2017, the $4 million global challenge was in partnership with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, with the aim of improving the lives of millions of people with lower-limb paralysis.
The Challenge invited engineers, innovators, and designers from across the world to submit designs for game-changing technologies, incorporating intelligent systems, to improve the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis. Central to the Challenge is the importance of collaboration with end-users to develop devices which will integrate seamlessly into users’ lives and environments, while being comfortable and easy to use, enabling greater independence and increased participation in daily life.
IHMC (Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition) & MYOLYN offer a robotic, powered exoskeleton with motors at the hips, knees and ankles, as well as additional actuators offering someone with lower-limb paralysis fast, stable, and agile upright mobility. Utilizing modular actuation, perception technology from autonomous vehicles, and control algorithms for balancing autonomous humanoid robots, this device will deliver the mobility, safety, and independence that current exoskeletons cannot. The device will improve accessibility in society – especially at home and work.
“We’re delighted to have made it through as one of the five finalists of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge,” said IHMC Senior Research Scientist Peter Neuhaus, who leads the IHMC and Myolyn team. “In the business world, developing technologies for people with lower-limb paralysis has been extraordinarily hard. We’ve constantly struggled against people saying the market is too small and because of that people aren’t putting in the effort, research or investment this field deserves, meaning there hasn’t been enough advancement.”
MYOLYN is a medical technology company based in Gainesville, Fla., that is dedicated to improving health and human performance. IHMC is a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System that pioneers technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities.
Eighty entries were received from specialist teams in 28 countries globally.The finalists were chosen by a panel of expert judges from around the world.
In addition to the $500,000 grant, the finalists will attend tailored workshops, receive mentoring opportunities with engineering experts, and collaborate with end users to further the development of their concepts through to 2020. The final winner of the Challenge will be awarded $1 million in Tokyo in 2020.