There’s no question the iBOT was ahead of its time. In fact, it’s a jarring to see photos from more than a decade and half ago with inventor Dean Kamen seated in the motorized wheelchair next to Bill Clinton in the Oval Office.
All these years later, the mobility device’s capabilities are still impressive, including power wheels that can walk up and down stairs, its ability to roll across tough terrain like grass and sand, and a rising seat that brings the user eye to eye with people standing nearby.
Over the years, Kamen (who also happened to invent the Segway) has made it known that he’d like to see the chair make a comeback, but has thus far been unable to deliver on the promise. Now a deal between the inventor’s DEKA and Toyota is set to bring the project back to life.
“We’d like to take everything great about the iBot and enhance it with 15 years of improvements in technology,” Kamen said in a video heralding the announcement. Under the agreement, Toyota will license DEKA’s technologies in a push to bring a new version of the iBOT to market, along with “medical rehabilitative therapy and potentially other purposes.”