Ageing societies and chronic disabilities are irrevocable trends in EU which usually result in a loss of autonomy and a breakdown of social relations. In some cases, the use of Electrical Powered Wheelchair (EPW) is the only way to provide autonomy and improve social inclusion (62/10000 people in FR - 200/10000 in UK). At present many people with complex disabilities face increased isolation due to loss of independent mobility because of difficulties of getting assessed for provision of an EPW and the availability of an appropriate EPW.
In response to these trends, studies highlight the key role of innovative Assistive Technologies (AT), including Social Assistive Robotics (SAR) and smart EPW (JRRD 2008), as effective tools to empower disabled and aged people and improve social inclusion. But barriers exist in the uptake of assistive technologies and social assistive robotics (standardization, interoperability, limited involvement of users, lack of specialist training for health professionals and funding models).
To overcome these barriers, the project strategy will rely on a framework of innovation including developments from TRL 4 to 8 and training in assistive technologies. Cost-effective products and standardization will be a focus in the developments to facilitate the deployment of the solutions to the market. Pre/post trial questionnaires will be used throughout the project to measure the added-value of the following innovative outputs and to continuously improve them to meet stakeholder’s needs.
The cross-border benefit of the proposed multidisciplinary consortium goes beyond the complementary technical skills to embrace the different cultural, regulatory and training environments building a fruitful context of collaboration to achieve greater convergence towards increasing market adoption of these assistive technologies.