Put the mouse pointer over the pink menu to make it slide out...

  John Williamson


For the latest news on the IBOT

  •  It can balance on two wheels in a completely stable manner "stood up"  so to speak, and move around in this mode safely, allowing "normal" reach, and face to face communication with others.
  • It can climb up/down any normal stairs or steps while the occupants seat remains level!
  • It also can travel on dodgy uneven surfaces no problem!

    This is all possible due to innovative design and gyros + sensors + a bunch of Pentium™ III processors, and some very clever programming.

 New Movie 3 Big 20Mb

(In explorer, right click and choose save as, and save to your desktop or a file of your choice)



For the latest news on the IBOT




IMPORTANT NEWS! Its now possible since the beginning of October 2003 to order one of these things - one month deliver time.  See Independence Technology Europe.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A battery-powered wheelchair that can climb stairs, manoeuvre over gravel or sand and handle 4-inch curbs won U.S. approval on Wednesday. 12 Aug 03

The device will cost about $29,000, Ł22,000 and should be available in three or four months, the manufacturer said.

The iBOT, conceived by prolific inventor Dean Kamen, uses gyroscopes, electronic sensors and computers to help mimic the way people maintain their balance, and adjusts to each movement. Kamen later used the same technology in his famous Segway scooter.

Jean-Luc Butel, president of Johnson & Johnson unit Independence Technology, said the iBOT's $29,000 cost was not as high as some specialized wheelchairs on the market. Plus, the iBOT saves people from having to spend thousands of dollars modifying their homes with ramps, elevators or other accommodations.

The iBOT will be available only with a prescription. Patients must receive training in how it operates and pass tests showing they can use it safely, the Food and Drug Administration said. (In the US at least...)

People must weigh no more than 250 pounds to use the chair, and they must be able to use one arm to employ all of the iBOT's functions, which are activated from a control panel.

Older News...  (About November 2002)
The iBOT had been stuck in the FDA approval process for the past several years awaiting clinical trial results. Well, the University of Pittsburgh formally announced  the conclusion of Phase II clinical trials today, while last week the FDA unanimously recommended approval for the sale of his (Dean Kamen) souped up wheelchair. Final approval may come in a few months. 

(This was sent to me by a friend copied from another site - but is what David Coates (Independence Technology's European President) told me was happening about 9 months ago! The gears turn very slowly...)

More news... (About mid November 2002)
An email from Independence Technology's James McEuen - Market Development Director - wants to call in and see me on the 5th December...

More more news! (exactly 5th December 2002)
James McEuen turned up as arranged and brought me an (pre production) IBOT3000 chair to play with... Tells me production ones should be available very soon (early next year) Photos and descriptions of how it feels to use to follow below.


Delivery 640 Size

 Assembly 640 Size Balancing 640 Size

Huge 2048 Size

Huge 2048 Size 1730 size or 2040 Size
Driving off with its remote control Fitting footplate after unloading Me playing, now I can wash the van...

I will no longer need to get my carers to wash my van! Strangely it feels its safest and happiest in this balancing mode!

 for modified drive from wheelchair vehicles


I am a big bloke, probably on the limit (and then some!) of its 17 stone approx maximum weight limit, although this didn't seem to bother it at all. This thing has plenty of torque and physical strength. All that had to be done was a quick 10 min session setting it up for my "centre of gravity fit" by laptop computer. Other than this it was for me literally a few minutes job to work out (with the help of James McEuen of course!) how it all works. In 30 minutes total we had climbed stairs, balanced both high up, and low down, and tried the "tank steering" 4 wheel drive mode! (After pumping up the tyres with my trusty CO2 Bottle and regulator! Foot pumps are pretty crap when you are paralysed from the chest down!)

"Normal" mode
In its normal rear wheel drive, and front castor wheels "conventional" mode, it feels a little sluggish and "front heavy" compared to my own Quickie F55s chair, but then all "normally programmed" conventional chairs feel like this to me anyway...  (Remember that my F55s chair that I am comparing this with is fairly heavily modified and tuned up to suit me and I am a little nuts!)

So in this mode it performs much the same as other "normal" chairs, but not as well as some of the better ones. After trying it outside in the street it would be acceptable but I doubt anyone would ever use it in this mode, other than to drive around inside the house etc; so as to be low to fit "under" tables and desks (although still a little higher than most conventional power-chairs) and to protect the carpet. The 4 wheel drive mode would rip it up! And balance mode is SO MUCH more fun, but not practical in really confined areas. And for anyone interested it is both narrower, and shorter than most other power-chairs on the market. Just a little too front heavy, and the controls a little too "delayed" for my liking. Nothing that cant be sorted with a little re-programming. If it was mine I would fit longer castors/bigger front castor wheels, and see about moving the centre of gravity back a little to give a better balance in this mode. Speed - This chair CAN (rather could) be very fast! but the speed of this one is 4mph (limited only by programming) due to the law here in the UK. If it had lights then it would and could be programmed to go faster. Much faster! Different countries have different laws though...

"4 Wheel drive" mode
In 4 wheel drive mode the chair sits a little higher than in "normal" configuration. It steers well on loose surfaces, or smooth non grippy surfaces, or would be "ok" for pavement use mostly in straight lines. It can also go through sand, mud etc (but IF I paid 30,000 US Dollars or 22,000 UK Pounds for it I might not want to drive in muck!!) and little will stop it moving... 

What it does not do well in this mode is to turn on concrete (jerky and makes a tyre ripping sound), or carpet tightly, as one tries to rip up the tyres and the other would tear up the carpet as expected!  For these conditions its best to revert to balance or normal modes! Should be fun in the snow on the way to the pub, or for towing cars... In this mode the seat remains level on ramps and inclines, and can be raised or lowered. Useful for washing vans, gardening, and steep ramps etc. (Except that the only gardening I do involves Cement, Sand, Gravel - check out my driveway... Far too much green in the world if you ask me!) Might be fun on the beach! 30,000 dollars in salty corrosive sea water and sand, nice!

Balance or Balancing mode!
ALL chairs NEED to do this... Just luv it! Flick a switch, stand up! This is the reason for this chairs existence!!! Choose the height! drive about SAFELY! Really you can't push it over! I tried... Drive up ramps, down kerbs, along the road to the pub, all much smoother and more relaxing while balancing. Feels like magic! Let go of joystick and it just stops! Slowly and peacefully moving very slightly back and forwards a couple of inches. Very relaxing! Choose a height level with the barmaid and you can at last have a normal conversation - have not had chance to try this yet and probably never could as my new Yugoslavian girlfriend would kill me she gets very jealous!

This is the mode that I everyone will use to travel around, its so much more natural than all the other modes. I expect the chair will spend 90 percent of its time like this, even when stopped. Its just better.

Seriously, balance mode is good for many reasons, such as:

1. It happens to be by far the most battery efficient for many technical reasons relating to Centre of Gravity/Centre of Pressure relationship.

2. Its FUN!

3. You are at a more natural height, so you feel stood up!

4. You can "walk" with others at their height so you don't feel left out.

5. Its still FUN!

6. Its cool!

7. Its more directionally stable so road cambers etc don't send you to the gutter etc

8. No small bumpy castors so its smoother, in my case helping prevent muscle spasm, and improving comfort.

9. You can also travel/park in this mode while reclined! good for pressure relief.

10. You are higher up and can see more at all times! Especially good in a crowd...

11. Did I mention its FUN! (Yes I know, but it really is!)

12. You can recline in balance mode too, so its better for pressure relief, as well as comfort, and it feels good!

It feels strange as you drive off, with the whole thing sort of feeling like it should fall forwards and then topple over! But it just doesn't! Stopping is the same, you dread dread pulling back on the stick in case the thing falls over! But it doesn't of course. Seems like a magic hand is holding you up... When you look down at the wheels and especially in "high seat position" it looks very unnatural. But you soon get used to the idea that it will not topple over!

Stair climbing mode
This is the strangest mode. To begin with the joystick does nothing! It feels strange, and its noisy and slow progress. BUT It works. It gives you access to places (bars?) that are normally inaccessible, so this too gets my vote! Lots of people (dummies!) tell me that as a paraplegic I don't need a power chair at all! This is because they were brainwashed by the hospitals, OT's, etc, (to save money obviously) as they were told that they were fit enough to manage with a manual chair. So what, I have 2 good manual chairs here. Don't use them now! Why would I? They are wider, longer than both my power chairs! and you can't exactly nip down to the pub in one can you? They are hard work on the street, and you end up knackered... And you might not be able to get in anyway...

You need a small amount of strength in your arms to use the stair climbing mode but its easy enough for most people I am assured - More a balance thing than a strength thing really.

Should be available in finished more refined quieter form by the beginning of next year (April?) and I will have one...

2040 pixel version!


OK - A minor update, Independence Technology Europe (a new website) has just opened.
To open a new window to that site click the link here


Old Existing page of info below...


It was invented/designed by Dean Kamen who is currently creating much fuss in the
scientific world with his latest secret invention known as "IT" codenamed "Ginger"

More Dean Kamen & IBOT 3000 details!

This is in the upright "balance" mode. This allows you to drive it around normally, and it is apparently very stable despite looking like it should fall over!

If you push or pull it will "fight back" and is very powerful. You could reach shelves and wash your car or just "prop" up the local bar in this mode.

This is the iBOT3000 in self balance mode. This alows you to reach and speak to people face to face and manoever in tight situations!  Or in my case, prop up the bar as I used to do....

This is normal mode. Drives like most good Powerchairs. It uses the rear wheels and the castor wheels on the front as per normal.

It can also lift up the main body/seat to allow all four main powered wheels to be used on uneven ground or ramps - or when in stair climbing mode. The seat and footplate remains level under all conditions in this mode of operation.

In "normal" mode the seat stays level regardless of slopes etc, allowing steep ramps and rough terrain to be negotiated.

In the stair climbing mode, the seat remains "still" or level is probably a more accurate description.

The two sets of rear wheels rotate around each other to the next higher or lower step as the chair balances in position.

Any number of steps are no problem, and even on steep ramps the seat remains level.

The chair both "balances" and allows the rear pair of axles to rotate over one another to accend or decend even some spiral staircases!


The guy who is responsible for setting up the European division of the Johnson & Johnson company - David Coates (President Europe) of INDEPENDENCE TECHNOLOGY -  e-mailed me back the other day, and it turns out he was born in my town!
His mother lives nearby. How likely is that?

He says he will be calling in to discuss it over a beer soon! Can't Wait!
Read the details he sent me on this chair below.

Update! - received new email today... (below)

I am in Grimsby visiting my mother until Friday.
I don't have your phone number and I can't find you in the directory.
I thought we could get together for a chat.
If you are in town and would like to meet call me at my mum's.  (Tel Grimsby
obviously removed!)

We have now established the European office in Switzerland.....details below.

David Coates

Independence Technology (Europe)
a Johnson & Johnson Company

Cilag AG International
Landis + Gyr-Strasse 1,
6300 ZUG, Switzerland.


I intend to persuade him to allow me to help in development of this incredible device!

Another update!

He visited my home as he said he would!  A first in the health industry I think! 
Someone that actually does what he says... It makes you realize that he is serious!
And I think I have persuaded him!

He came here to Europe, to set up the European division (US division already established) of this company which he is now doing very rapidly.  He told me lots of interesting stuff, regarding certification in differing countries and the complex regulations and the time all this takes. Apparently the first areas in Europe that it will be officially on sale are the Scandinavian countries, for these and other reasons . And very soon afterwards here in the UK. (2002?)

It will however be on show at one of our UK mobility shows in Birmingham this year, (May 15-17th at the NEC gone!) so anyone interested can view it in action balancing standing up, and driving over uneven surfaces as well as safe stair climbing! No more struggling to get into your friends house or the shops! Freedom at last for those of us restricted to wheelchairs.

Once this chair is in the country and the show is over, David promises that he is going to try and arrange for it to be sent here to me for evaluation/engineering purposes at least for a while, as I am kind of good at this sort of thing!
I really hope he can arrange it as I know I can give valuable input that helps develop the final UK version, and these guys listen to comments from actual wheelchair users! Another first!.

This will of course mean me signing forms that remove all liability from them, as it will still really be a prototype chair and could still have some bugs or improvements required before it goes on sale in the UK.  That way if it throws me down four flights of concrete steps I have only myself to blame! Isn't life fun! 

With enough input from potential users and people like me who have a habit of redesigning "normal" Powerchairs, we should be able to have a product that does exactly what it says on the tin!. - Devoid of any weak points and problems that most currently available chairs so obviously do, and as right as it is possible to be straight from the start.

No more ramps or house conversions. Think of the overall cost benefit, and nipping down to your friends house or the local shop, that may have steps, will become a normal activity!  Also it can STAND up on two wheels vertically giving you the same height advantage as "non disabled" people, allowing normal conversation (and reach!) and greater agility due to its smaller "footprint" in this upright balancing mode. This means moving around in confined spaces/pubs etc is all so much much easier!

There will be no need to constantly do research before a trip to see if you can get on trains/into buildings etc think of the freedom from worry that this offers a chair user!

These benefits will in the next few years become more obvious, and revolutionize wheelchair & disability related modifications to buildings or shopping areas and streets as well as allowing greater real freedom.

Obviously the cost saving in not having to retro-fit special doors and adding ramps and special lowered kitchens, downstairs bedroom extensions and so on offsets the initial cost considerably, and eventually the costs involved in this advanced technology will drop anyway, as the obvious benefits and rise in volume sales will allow the enormous initial development costs to be recovered.

Lots of the data given here (below) is now old and is far surpassed by the current development versions such as range and step height and slope angles are in reality about double now! According to David.

Expect a few videos to be added to this site soon of the chair in action! (As soon as they arrive!)

This is the first of many planned models to come as both they (INDEPENDENCE TECHNOLOGY) and we ALL learn of the possibilities and improvements that this kind of technology can bring now and in the future.


Want one? IBOT 3000 Powerchair.....

The Independence Technology IBOT 3000

Stood up on two wheels!

President Clinton, with Dean Kamen
(inventor) in a 'balancing' IBOT 3000.

Stair climbing demonstration at a disability show. This does not require more than 5lb of strength
but some upper body strength is required and a handrail, along with a little practice and training.

In its balance mode the seat can be raised too, if required, to reach high items off a shelf,
 or you can drive about quite normally at the same eye level as normal "walking" people do.

It is stable and safe in balance mode, and can drive about quite normally just like any normal 
power-chair,  except that it can turn on the spot, so can maneuver better in confined spaces.

  It can also traverse slopes and ramps while in balance mode. It is very difficult to "unbalance"
or "push over" as If you were strong enough to do this it simply "sits down" into a lower 
4 wheel drive (non balance) configuration automatically.
I tried to push it over as hard as I could at the show and it just pushes back! The IBOT won...

One non wheelchair bound big fit bloke who I don't know, using all his strength did actually 
manage to make it sit down, simply proving its safe!

In 4 wheel drive mode the castor wheels are well clear of the ground, and kerbs, sand, 
uneven surfaces, loose or slippery ground or driving down the shopping centre are no problem.

The seat remains level, whatever angle the ground is, or on slopes or when driving up or down 

 Below is an accurate copy of a previous (but now very old and out of date) document David 
mailed me, converted into html. Most of the specs are improved and the design has had many 
improvements made since this document but it still makes interesting reading.




Independence Technology, a Johnson & Johnson company, has created an innovative mobility device.

The INDEPENDENCE™ iBOT™ 3000 is designed to have a combination of features that are unlike any mobility device ever created.

Features include:

  • Climbing kerbs and stairways.

  • Balancing on two wheels, giving the user the ability to have eye level conversation with a loved one, a co- worker or a person at a social gathering.

  • Crossing rough terrain such as gravel or your lawn.

Stairs can be decended without holding on! Click for big picture!Stair climbing or decending! Click to see a bigger image of the iBOT 3000 In balance mode, trying to pull it over! Click for bigger view

Operating Functions:

Standard Function

  • The INDEPENDENCE™ iBOT 3000™ is designed to operate indoors or outdoors just as today's current power chairs do.  But this is where the similarities to today's chairs end.

Balance Function

  • The INDEPENDENCE™ iBOT 3000™ has a system of gyroscopes that is designed to balance on two wheels and still be fully mobile. This makes it simple to get to high shelves in the kitchen or the supermarket. This would also permit you to move around at eye level.

Remote Function

  • The remote function allows you to detach the joystick, and with a wire remote drive the INDEPENDENCE™ iBOT 3000™ into the back of a vehicle for transporting.

4 Wheel Function

  • Climb kerbs and manage in rough terrain. The INDEPENDENCE™ 3000 iBOT™ can climb kerbs as high as 15 cms. You can go out in the backyard or local park with the INDEPENDENCE™ iBOTä 3000.

Stair Function

  • The INDEPENDENCE™ iBOTä 3000 is designed to climb stairs either up or down without assistance, or with an assistant if no handrail is available, or if the user’s level of disability is such that they are not able to grip the handrail

iBOT™ 3000 Specifications (well superceded by current models)

Drive wheels 30 cm pneumatic
Casters 10 cm solid
Maximum speed 6mph (9.6 km/h)-programmable
Per-charge range 9 to15miles (15-24 km)
Ground clearance 3 inches (7.6 cm)
Turning radius  0/0 (turns on own axis)
Overall length 104 cm
Overall width 60-76 cm (depending on seat width)
Seat Back   Width: 45cms  Depth: 45cms
Drive 2 wheel motor drive, 1 rotating motor
Battery Two x 7.2 volt NiCad
Weight capacity 113 kg - 17.75stones
Unladen weight 92 kg (excluding batteries)
Battery weight Two at 10.5 kg each
Battery recharge time 4 hours
Kerb climbing height 15 cm
Tilt 10 degrees
Max. stair height 21 cm
Min. stair width  23 cm
Max. stair overhang 2,5 cm

  "This device will be CE marked (93/42/EEC) and comply with national regulations before being marketed.


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