Ford's smart, portable, lightweight wheelchair ramp innovation

Automotive giant Ford has used ingenuity and creative thinking to reinvent its car mat into a lightweight, portable smart ramp for disabled drivers to help tackle inaccessible public spaces.

Called the ‘Accessibility Mat’, the prototype was designed through the joint efforts of Ford Brazil, GTB Brazil and Code Studio to help residents in the South American country negotiate formerly inaccessible areas, such as pavements with no drop curbs or particularly worn, potholed-filled roads.

The device provides a new function to an already existing car part, redesigning its Ecosport boot mat into a dual-purpose ramp which can be easily carried on the back of a wheelchair.

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Interestingly, the ramp/mat concept also incorporates an element of “smart” technology, with the Accessibility Map connecting to the wheelchair user’s smartphone via Bluetooth and a microprocessor embedded in the ramp.

Each time the device is used by a wheelchair user, the Accessibility Mat gathers data on the location and highlights places where disabled access needs to be improved on an app and website, flagging to local authorities where action needs to be taken.

Not currently available in the UK, the project reinforces a growing trend for greater inclusivity and accessibility in society, with the needs of disabled people gaining more attention.

Recently, the Toyota Mobility Challenge, a high-profile, multi-million-pound international competition, challenged designers and inventors from across the world to create new innovations to improve mobility, with five recently announced finalists turning heads with their unique and remarkable designs.

Watch the video below to find out more about the new Accessibility Mat:

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