Freedom riders

Israeli polio victim builds a scooter for the disabled

The Moving Life Atto Freedom Scooter folds up, is light and easy to move around with — and it looks cool, says its creator

Nino Ransenberg on an Atto Mobility Scooter (Courtesy)
Nino Ransenberg on an Atto Mobility Scooter (Courtesy)

There are tens of millions of people around the world who, while not totally disabled, have a hard time getting around physically — and, as a result, tend to stay home, missing out on much of what life has to offer.

Polio victim Nino Ransenberg felt their pain — but instead of submitting to the constraints his condition imposed on him, he invented a better way to get around.

“It was on a trip to New York — when taxi after taxi passed me and my big mobility scooter by — that I decided to do something,” Ransenberg told The Times of Israel. “Words cannot describe the feeling of being discriminated against because you use a mobility scooter. There are very few cities in the world where a taxi driver will stop to pick up a passenger with a mobility scooter, to say nothing of cafes and restaurants that people avoid because there is simply no room for their vehicle.”

Thus was born the Moving Life Atto Freedom Scooter, the first one in the world that folds up into a compact, mini-suitcase size box that fits into a car trunk — and is a lot sleeker and stylish than other mobility scooters on the market.

You see them everywhere these days; mobility scooters are used by the disabled and the elderly to get around town. But only a small fraction of those who need them, use them. According to Yuval Chomski, an entrepreneur who developed the Atto with Ransenberg, “I had never before observed the world from the perspective of a mobility scooter’s user, but I suddenly began to notice elderly and handicapped people with these types of vehicles everywhere I went. You see plenty of them when you actually look for them, and you also discover the problems and obstacles they encounter.”

Among those obstacles are size; the mobility scooters on the market are generally too big to get into doorways, said Ransenberg. “Everyone walks in through the revolving door, and you and your family are stuck waiting for someone to notice you.”

Fully open, the Atto looks like many other mobility scooters — only sleeker. It was designed to be narrow enough to fit through doorways, with the seat and footrest narrow enough to fit through standard-sized 80-cm (32-inch) doors, stairs, escalators, small elevators, or narrow passages, taking into account the width of the rider.

The Atto can go up to six miles (10 km) per hour (in most jurisdictions the speed limit for mobility scooters is 4 mph), and can travel up to 30km (18.6 miles) on a single battery charge.

Atto Mobility Scooters, opened and packed for the road (Courtesy)
Atto Mobility Scooters, opened and packed for the road. (Courtesy)

The novelty of the Atto is in its folding and storage. Besides being the only foldable mobility scooter in the world, it’s also one of the lightest: It weigh 25 kg (55 lbs), which makes it easy to lift and store in the trunk of a car. It folds into the size of a carry-on airline case, and can be rolled around just like a piece of luggage. “Even better, it can be split into two parts for even easier storage in small spaces,” said Ransenberg. “You can take it onto a plane and fit it into an overhead compartment. In fact, many of our beta users have been doing just that.”

Many of those several thousand beta users are located in Israel, where the Atto has been available on a limited basis for a year. The plan is to begin offering the units in Europe and then the US. Ransenberg’s company — the Ra’anana-based Moving Life — is hoping to get a medical device designation of the Atto by the FDA, so that it can be subsidized by insurance companies. “We’ve passed all the tests in Israel and the US, and we expect to get that designation soon,” said Ransenberg.

The price of the scooter in Israel is NIS 13,000 ($3,475 in the US), “about mid-range for what mobility scooters generally cost,” he added.

Convenience is important — but just as important is the stylishness of the Atto, said Ransenberg. “Most of the scooters on the market are big, hulking things; you feel disabled when you ride them. The Atto is nice looking, modern looking — people look at it and say it looks cool.”

Despite being the victim of what is often a debilitating disease, Ransenberg has worked for decades as a successful entrepreneur in a wide variety of Israeli tech businesses. Among other things, he founded, in 2001, the DNSR Group, one of the first and most successful digital advertising firms in Israel, and sold part of it to worldwide digital advertising firm DMG in 2012.

At the same time, Ransenberg established Moving Life in order to develop the world first transfoldable mobility scooter. “Everything that I did before Moving Life was geared to creating a source of income for me and for hundreds of company employees,” continued Ransenberg. “This time is different. We are doing more than creating job opportunities; we’re making the world a better place by offering a mobility vehicle to those who need it, which will not only serve their needs, but guarantees a proud and enjoyable experience.”

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