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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
BAE brains behind super-wheelchair
The iBot will cost about $29,000 (18,000) when it goes on sale
World-beating technology developed in Plymouth is about to revolutionise the wheelchair.

The iBot is a new type of wheelchair that can walk up and down stairs.

It was made possible thanks to new technology invented by BAE Systems in Plymouth, formerly British Aerospace.

It is a cousin of the Segway, the two-wheeled human transporter for able-bodied people, also enabled by BAE technology from Plymouth.

Richatrd Windmer of BAE Systems, said: "People might have associated the plant with military programmes, but we are now moving into the area of automotive field.

"And this really is world-beating technology."

Plymouth-developed gyroscopes are at the heart of the iBot
BAE scientists developed miniature motion sensors based on a new type of silicon gyroscope - tiny solid-state gyroscopes that do not actually rotate.

The iBot, developed by US firm Independence Technology, relies on information from the motion sensors in order to move its highly-articulated wheelbase.

It is not available yet, but this week the iBot got approval by the powerful US Food and Drug Administration.

At $29,000 (18,000) each, it will remain beyond the spending power of many wheelchair users.

Independence Technology is negotiating with US private medical insurers to pay for the wheelchair.

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