Centaur Robotics
Another Pathfinder project receiving funding is Centaur, a two-wheeled personal electric vehicle.

The Design Age Institute has announced six Pathfinder Projects to develop commercially viable products and services that will enable individuals and communities to maintain an active and joyful life at every age.

The Design Age Institute will work to support projects including cargo-carrying robots, an app to engage people with their hearing health through birdsong, flexible housing, an age-inclusive bank, data-driven diabetes management, and a two-wheeled personal electronic vehicle.

Based at the Royal College of Art, The Design Age Institute was set up to provide design support for Pathfinder Projects, accelerating an innovative idea for healthy ageing from a prototype towards market.

The objectives of these projects are to help people age healthier and happier in their home, workplace and neighbourhood by addressing issues of mobility, health, social connection, working life, finance, independence at home, and ageism. Across its Pathfinder programme, the institute provides and facilitates seed funding, design research, opportunity scoping and mentoring, as well as connecting projects with design experts.

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Colum Lowe, Director of the Design Age Institute, said: “From health and mobility to housing and financial security, each of these innovative Pathfinder Projects focuses on a different fundamental part of day-to-day life.

“They all have the important common goal of developing desirable and commercially viable products and services for an ageing society. We’re pleased to be working with a number of exceptional organisations and we look forward to launching more projects soon.”

One of the projects is the Gita, a cargo-carrying following robot, which pairs with a person and follows them while they walk. The aim of the robot is to supply older people with an intuitive and responsive companion, enabling them to have the confidence to engage with the outside world and their communities in a meaningful way.

Another Pathfinder project receiving funding is a “revolutionary”, self-balancing, and two-wheeled personal electric vehicle called Centaur.

The Design Age Institute is already collaborating with Centaur Robotics to enhance the way the Centaur communicates with users. Now, the institute and Centaur Robotics are teaming up with the ExtraCare Charitable Trust to further enhance the vehicle’s sophisticated technology, and the support services that make it easier to drive the vehicle.

The work will also increase the potential market for the Centaur, which will be available at an affordable price. Design principles and research enabled by the Design Age Institute will help make the Centaur attractive and ultra-safe for mobility-impaired people in communities and private homes, both across the UK and internationally.

This modern electric wheelchair received a UK Government grant of £175,000 back in 2020 to enable the device to be used for social distancing and built with COVID-resistant materials.

See the full list of the six Pathfinder Projects receiving support and funding here.

Applications are now open for the second round of Pathfinder Projects. Design Age Institute invites submissions of inspirational, transformative, life-enhancing ideas and prototypes that can be developed, funded or supported as a Pathfinder Project.

The institute is looking for projects that will change the narrative on ageing, requiring not only a strong idea but also success of implementation. Projects accepted onto the scheme should aim to be launched by Spring 2023 in accordance with Research England’s funding timeline. Applications should be submitted by midnight on Sunday 20 February.

Design Age Institute can provide funding of up to £50,000 (VAT inclusive) and additionally will provide design management support and access to existing research. Funding will be granted to individuals or enterprises based in England.

Gitarobot
The Gita, a cargo-carrying following robot supplies older people with an intuitive and responsive companion.
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