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FDA clears Israeli robotic standing wheelchair for US sales

UPnRIDE’s mobility system allows quadriplegics to move around indoor and outdoor environments, while standing upright

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

Dr. Amit Goffer's UPnRIDE Robotics Ltd. has developed a system that enables paraplegics to stand up straight, walk and climb stairs. (Courtesy)
Dr. Amit Goffer's UPnRIDE Robotics Ltd. has developed a system that enables paraplegics to stand up straight, walk and climb stairs. (Courtesy)

The US Food and Drug Administration cleared a standing wheelchair produced by an Israeli robotics company for sale in the US.

The mobility device from UPnRIDE Robotics is a wheelchair that brings quadriplegics from a sitting to an upright position, allowing them to be fully mobile in both positions, indoors and outdoors.

The standing wheelchair received FDA clearance for use in the US in September. The company now can market and sell the device in the US. It has one vendor, and is looking for others.

“The approval of our UPnRIDE standing wheelchair is another very important milestone in our mission to offer health benefits and improved quality of life to millions of people suffering from walking impairments,” Dr. Amit Goffer, founder and president of the company, said in a Thursday statement.

“I have had a longstanding vision that all people confined to a wheelchair should have access to enhanced mobility and enjoy the many health benefits associated with the ability to perform everyday tasks in a standing position. With the introduction of UPnRIDE, this dream is becoming a reality,” said Goffer, who is a quadriplegic himself.

The device is appropriate for use by quadriplegics, paraplegics, the elderly, and people suffering from multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other conditions that limit mobility.

Following the FDA approval for distribution, the company aims to develop distribution and service centers in the US.

Goffer addressed 18,000 people at AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington on Sunday, after vowing to the confab seven years ago that he would someday return to address attendees standing upright.

Unlike other standing wheelchairs already on the market, UPnRIDE’s solution is good for both indoor and outdoor environments, as the center of gravity of the user stays within the center of the device using an auto-balancing mechanism — once the user is pushed up to a standing position — ensuring it remains stable. In this way the device can negotiate a variety of surfaces, sidewalks and slopes.

Goffer helped create the bionic walking assistance system ReWalk, which enables paraplegics to stand up straight, walk and climb stairs. He left the company after it held an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.

UPnRIDE was founded in 2013 and is based in northern Israel’s Yokne’am Illit.

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