iBot discontinued but motorized wheelchair technology marches on

I was surprised to read in Popular Science that Dean Kamen’s iBot (an electric, motorized wheelchair which goes from four wheels to two wheels lifting the rider in the process, and can climb stairs,) has been discontinued due to costs. Neither insurance companies, nor Medicaid, wanted to foot the bill for this expensive, although amazing, power chair.

If you are lucky enough to have an iBot, HiZook notes that service will continue on the iBot until 2013.

Here is a commercial for the now departed iBot:

How cool was that! Check out the SavetheIBot campaign to try to save this amazing assistive device!

HiZook also  has a review of the Segway RMP 50 robotic platform,  an omnidirectional powered platform that reminds me of something I read in comic books as a kid. Can you imagine using something like this as a base for a powered wheelchair?

Segway RMP Omni 50 from Cressel Anderson on Vimeo.

VA begins testing on Dean Kamen’s prosthetic Luke arm

Newspaper headline Extra Extra

Alright! Dean Kamen’s prosthetic “Luke” arm is one step closer to helping amputess, especially injured veterans:

Last week, VA announced the start of a three-year clinical trial that represents the first large-scale testing of the arm, a critical step before it can be made widely available. The first patient was fitted with an arm in April.

The device was developed by Deka Research and Development, the New Hampshire company whose founder, Dean Kamen, invented the Segway and various medical devices. 

The robotic arm, nicknamed the “Luke arm” after the artificial arm worn by Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” films, allows those who have lost a limb up to their shoulder joint to perform movements while reaching over their head, a previously impossible maneuver for people with a prosthetic arm.

via VA Tests New Arm That Could Benefit Amputees – washingtonpost.com.  

Check out the video demonstrating the arm in my earlier post.

Video: Dean Kamen’s IBOT “Wheelchair” Power Chair

The IBOT is Dean Kamen’s on-road, off road, all terrain, stair climbing, power chair (“wheelchair”) which can also go into two wheel mode to raise the rider into a higher, more eye-level position.

It isn’t exactly new, but it is actually out in the real world; instead of being just some super cool prototype in a lab.

Here’s a nice clear, although in-lab, video showing the features:

BlazerCast for April 1: The IBot Mobility SystemThe best video clips are right here

Here is a real world video (poorer quality video but showing off road use):

Theresa Test Drives An IBotFunny blooper videos are here

How stable is it in two wheel mode? Oh, stable enough to go to the gun range! Seriously!

The commercial even shows it on the beach! Sorry, video removed at YouTube: 

How much? Oh, about $26,000 according to the videos. Ouch! For more information, see www.ibotnow.com.