CHENNAI: Indian Institute of Technology Madras has developed India’s first indigenous motorized wheelchair vehicle that can be used not only on roads but even on uneven terrains.
Called ‘NeoBolt’, it has a maximum speed of 25 kmph and travels up to 25 km per charge. It empowers wheelchair users with a convenient, safe and low-cost mode of outdoor mobility when compared to cars, auto rickshaws or modified scooters. NeoBolt is powered by a Lithium-Ion Battery that will give 25 Kms for every charge.
Throughout the development process, the IIT-M Researchers collaborated extensively with organizations and hospitals working among people with locomotor disability and built the products factoring in their experiences and making constant design adjustments.
NeoBolt was developed by a team led by Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, and has been commercialized through a startup called ‘NeoMotion.’ The Startup has been co-founded by Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan and an IIT Madras Alumnus Mr. Swostik Sourav Dash, who is the CEO of NeoMotion.
Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan 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.
Highlighting the vision behind developing these products, Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan, Faculty Head, TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2), IIT Madras, said, “Our centre’s vision is to transform the disability landscape in India by creating functional and affordable assistive devices. How often do you see a wheelchair user at a school, an office, a shop or a theatre? Wheelchair users are typically restricted to the four walls of their home, which affects their community participation and their ability to contribute to the economy.”
Further, Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan said, “NeoMotion, the start-up from R2D2 incubated at IIT Madras, is here to transform the landscape through game-changing and world-class wheelchair products designed and made in India – for India and the world.”
The start-up has also developed and commercially launched ‘NeoFly,’ a personalized wheelchair designed to enhance health and lifestyle. As much as 18 customizations ensure a perfect fit to the user’s requirements.
“NeoFly is the first Indian Wheelchair that is customised to the user. It is built to provide comfort, efficient propulsion, higher manoeuvrability 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,” added Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan.
Products with features comparable to NeoBolt are available only in the global market and are at least three to five times more expensive.
Elaborating on the current status, Mr. Swostik Sourav Dash, Co-Founder and CEO of NeoMotion, said, “NeoFly and NeoBolt are presently being used by over 600 users across 28 States in India. The feedback has been positive. The demo units are available in 15 dealer outlets and four rehabilitation centres in major cities, pan India. With our unique NeoFit system, the entire customization is done remotely, so that a well-fitting NeoFly lands at the user’s doorstep.”
Further, Mr. Swostik Sourav Dash said, “Along with product warranty, we provide spare parts and after-sales service so that our users can use the products hassle-free. Our immediate focus is to ramp up production and make NeoFly and NeoBolt available to users across India. NeoFly personalized wheelchair is available at Rs. 39,900 and NeoBolt motorized add-on is available at Rs. 55,000. We offer convenient EMI options. Users can pre-book their orders with us for just Rs. 1,000 by registering on our website.”
It is estimated that around three lakh wheelchairs are sold annually in India, of which 2.5 lakh are imported. Nearly 95 percent of all wheelchairs sold in India are ‘one-size-fits-all,’ which restricts mobility, damages health, and lowers self-confidence. ‘NeoFly’ and ‘NeoBolt’ developed by the IIT Madras Team are intended at addressing these issues.
NeoFly covers three to five times more distance for every push owing to the right posture, a rigid frame and an ergonomic pushrim. A 30% smaller footprint for same seating area enhances accessibility of narrow spaces. The design conforms to user’s body, making the user more visible than the wheelchair. NeoCushion, a cushion with every NeoFly, is specially designed to enhance skincare, stability and ease of transfer.
NeoBolt is a motor-powered clip-on which converts NeoFly into a safe, roadworthy vehicle. It is designed to enable wheelchair users to go out into the world and explore life. It eliminates the need to transfer into other vehicles and can be independently attached by the user within seconds.
NeoFly Feature Highlights include:
⮚ Puncture Resistant Tires, Indoor and Outdoor Options
⮚ Ergonomic Pushrim
⮚ Rigid Frame Design
⮚ Adjustable Backrest Height & Angle
⮚ Adjustable Footrest Height & Angle
⮚ Five Size Options of Seat Width & Seat Depth
⮚ Safety Anti-Tippers
NeoBolt Feature Highlights include:
⮚ Quick and Easy Attachment Design (Patented)
⮚ Safety Anti-Tippers (Patented)
⮚ Li-Ion Battery, 25 km per charge, 4 hours recharge
⮚ Digital Dashboard
⮚ Headlight, Side Indicators, Horn, Mirror
⮚ Reverse Function
⮚ Telescopic Suspension
⮚ Rugged Built Chassis
Demonstration video can be downloaded from the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CTSYJiUWyRP3U2AKm349q5PHQQnHJP2u/view?usp=sharing