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Inventor's 'smart wheelchair' could revolutionise mobility

Andrew Slorance from Moray designed the innovative chair to help other disabled people.

Design: Andrew created the smart chair following his own experiences.
Design: Andrew created the smart chair following his own experiences. STV/Phoenix_Ai

An inventor has designed a new 'smart' wheelchair programmed with artificial intelligence, which makes it easier to use.

Andrew Slorance, from Moray, who is himself a wheelchair user, hopes to revolutionise mobility for people across the world with his creation.

His innovative new chair has now helped him become the only UK finalist in a global competition for innovation in mobility.

Andrew was paralysed at the age of 14 when he suffered a spinal injury after falling from a tree and has used a wheelchair ever since.

Now he hopes to revolutionise design with his 'smart wheelchair'.

"It'll be easier to turn because it will itself transfer the balance of the user and the wheelchair to the right part of the wheelchair to cause the least drag possible when you're pushing it," he explained.

"All the user has to do is steer the thing. When it comes to a slope, it will know it's come to a slope and some power assist will kick in."

Andrew's Forres-based firm Phoenix Instinct has just won £400,000 to take his design to the next stage.

Andrew is the only UK finalist in the running for the $1m prize.
Andrew is the only UK finalist in the running for the $1m prize. Phoenix_Ai

He's the only UK finalist in a global competition run by the Toyota Mobility Foundation and the Nesta Challenge Prize Centre to create innovations in mobility.

Having already designed his own lightweight carbon fibre chair and wheelchair-friendly luggage, he'll work with a team of experts to develop the new smart chair.

Andrew hopes that if successful, he can change the lives of other disabled people and help others see past 'the chair'.

"The worst day of my life was not the day that I was paralysed, it was the day I first went out in public in a wheelchair," he explained.

"The wheelchair stripped me of my identity. I was no longer a teenager, I was a disabled boy and the wheelchair was so big and difficult to move, that I didn't want to go out.

"So I hope that our new wheelchair that is aesthetically great and gives a very positive perception and is really so easy to use will make that newly injured individual want to venture out, knowing this chair helped them and not hindered them."

Competitors will showcase their designs in Tokyo in 18 months' time.

If successful, Andrew would win $1m, and it's hoped the new wheelchair could enter into production, helping change the lives of people across the world.

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