Housing charity partners with mobility firm for residents to benefit from modern electric wheelchair
In an effort to hopefully “revolutionise” the mobility sector, a not-for-profit housing developer, ExtraCare, and mobility provider Centaur Robotics have collaborated to understand how retirement community residents could help shape the benefits and use of a modern electric wheelchair, the Centaur.
The aim of this partnership is to provide an affordable mobility service option for ExtraCare residents, and to explore how to make slimmer and more agile mobility devices for people to use in an around their homes.
Designed and engineered by Centaur Robotics, the Centaur is a futuristic two-wheeled self-balancing vehicle. In January 2022, it was selected as a Pathfinder Project by the UK Government-backed Design Age Institute.
It boasts a modern design and has a chair which lifts the user to eye-level, putting high shelves and cupboards in reach. Centaur Robotics says the mobility device aims to combat the stigma surrounding mobility products with an attractive design.
ExtraCare teamed up with Centaur Robotics and The Design Age Institute to further enhance the Centaur’s sophisticated technology, and the support services that make it easier to drive the vehicle.
It is hoped that principles and research enabled by The Design Age Institute will help make the Centaur attractive and totally safe for mobility-impaired people in communities and private homes, both across the UK and internationally.
Eric Kihlstrom, Chairman of Centaur Robotics, said: “Centaur Robotics and ExtraCare share the same goal. We are both committed to helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. Staying mobile and independent as we age in place is key to that.
“Our collaboration with ExtraCare will allow us to analyse the types of journeys people living in retirement communities make and how slimmer, more agile personal electric vehicles like the Centaur can be used around and inside people’s homes.
“Mobility scooters are too large and are often left outside where they can obstruct corridors and fire exits. While many rely on them to get around, they have a negative image which deters potential users.
“The Centaur looks good and is designed to combat the stigma which accompanies so many mobility devices. We also hope our work with ExtraCare will create an affordable service option opening up access to users from all social and economic backgrounds.”
Other innovative Pathfinder Projects chosen by the Design Age Institute include an app to engage people with their hearing health through birdsong, an age-inclusive bank, and data-driven diabetes management.
Shirley Hall, ExtraCare Head of Research, Innovation and Customer Insight, added: “We are aware of issues in our locations around use of scooters and wheelchairs and are seeking new ways to resolve them.
“We’ve been working with residents for several years on how to store them, and how they are being used in the communal areas. The Centaur has the potential to be another solution for us and our residents. We are excited to trial it in some of our locations, to get resident feedback, and to ensure we continue to innovate in our setting.”