The DREAM wheelchair has been designed with input from children, targeting the daily needs of young wheelchair users. The idea for the project came from charities Whizz-Kidz and Duchenne UK, who initially used funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery to collaborate with Edinburgh University academics on the concept.
Following a workshop at the Innovation Hub in London in 2018, a shortlist of 72 recommendations were put forward for the chair, with a focus on the everyday challenges faced by young people with mobility challenges. Frazer-Nash Consultancy then joined the project to help further develop the concept, delivering a DREAM wheelchair prototype that was launched in December 2020.
The success to date has enabled further funding to be secured, with WAE now joining the project to advance the DREAM wheelchair beyond the initial prototype. WAE will now review the design, looking to add features such as kerb-climbing and a modular seat, while also keeping an eye on manufacturability and the intention to bring the product to market.
According to the F1 spinout, its knowledge of the healthcare industry, gained through projects such as Babypod - a lightweight incubator for the transportation of critically ill children - and a Paralympic handbike, will help the company ensure the needs of the user are central to both the design and manufacture of the wheelchairs.
“We are delighted to be part of this project and welcome the opportunity to contribute to a programme that will be making a genuine difference to people’s lives,” said Paul McNamara, technical director, Williams Advanced Engineering.
“Our experience with past projects has shown us the importance of prioritising the needs of the individual and we look forward to delivering some new and innovative design ideas.”