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    Meet Whill The High-Performance Wheelchair

    A team of engineers in Japan set out to create a sleek, powerful, more modern electric wheelchair.

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    Satoshi Sugi, the founder and CEO of Whill, was inspired to create a high-tech wheelchair by a neighbor. “He used a wheelchair, and he told me he had given up even going to the grocery store two blocks away. He didn’t like being seen in public as weak or crippled. I wanted to make a wheelchair that would make the user feel confident and cool, while also using technology to improve the experience and capabilities.”

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    Sugi partnered with engineers from Sony, Toyota, and Olympus to create the Whill. The design is very modern and sleek, like something Professor X might own. I took it for a spin — though of course as someone who isn’t a wheelchair user my impressions were somewhat limited. I found driving the Whill to be completely intuitive and fun.

    The controller to steer the Whill was designed to mimic the experience of using a mouse with a computer. You have 360 degrees of motion and can turn on a dime. Each front wheel on the Whill is actually made up of 24 separate tiny tires. This allows it to be very maneuverable indoors. It also has four-wheel drive for handling rough terrain outdoors.

    The Whill tops out at 6 miles per hour, and no matter how hard I hit my turns at full speed, it never tipped or wobbled. It has a lead acid battery that takes about five hours to charge and provides power for a 15-mile trip. The Whill costs $9,500 and will begin shipping in April. The company is taking preorders now.

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