FDA Approves 'SUV' of Wheelchairs

Futuristic iBOT Makes Short Work of Stairs, Curbs

The iBOT rolls up a curb.

The iBOT rolls up a curb. Independence Technology hide caption

itoggle caption Independence Technology
The wheelchair traverses up stairs by elevating and tilting its passengers.

The wheelchair traverses up stairs by elevating and tilting its passengers. Independence Technology hide caption

itoggle caption Independence Technology

An estimated 2 million Americans use wheelchairs or motorized scooters. For some, obstacles such as stairs, elevated curbs and rocky terrain may no longer pose such a steep challenge.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved what is being called the SUV of wheelchairs. The iBOT, priced at $29,000, can climb stairs, bound up curbs, and glide through gravel, sand and grass. It can even elevate a seated passenger to reach the top shelf at a grocery store.

NPR's Michele Norris, host of All Things Considered, talks with NPR's Joseph Shapiro about how the wheelchair works and whom it might benefit.

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