Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) has developed India’s first indigenous motorised wheelchair vehicle, NeoBolt, that can be used even on uneven terrains.
The innovation caught the attention of Anand Mahindra, the chairman of the Mahindra Group. He tweeted, “It looks like a really cool & thoughtful innovation. Truly a way of accelerating the lives of the differently abled. It merits support & I’d be happy to help.” He even posted a small WhatsApp video on the vehicle.
NeoBolt has a maximum speed of 25 km/h and it 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. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery, says a release from IIT Madras.
Throughout the development process, the IIT-M researchers collaborated extensively with organisations 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 Sujatha Srinivasan, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, and has been commercialised through a start-up called ‘NeoMotion.’ The start-up has been co-founded by Sujatha Srinivasan and an IIT Madras Alumnus Swostik Sourav Dash, who is the CEO of NeoMotion. The start-up has developed and commercially launched ‘NeoFly,’ a personalised wheelchair. As much as 18 customisations ensure a perfect fit to the user’s requirements.
“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 it can do this comfortably as it has suspensions to absorb the shocks,” Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan said.
Products with features comparable to NeoBolt are available only in the global market and are at least three to five times more expensive, the release said.
NeoFly and NeoBolt are presently being used by over 600 users across 28 states in India. NeoFly personalised wheelchair is available at Rs 39,900 and NeoBolt motorised add-on is available at Rs 55,000. There are also EMI options. Users can pre-book their orders with us for just Rs 1,000 by registering in the company’s website, the release said.
It is estimated that around 3 lakh wheelchairs are sold annually in India, of which 2.5 lakh are imported. Nearly 95% of all wheelchairs sold in India are ‘one-size-fits-all,’ which restricts mobility, damages health, and lowers self-confidence. ‘NeoFly’ and ‘NeoBolt’ are intended at addressing these issues.