The UNiMO tread-tracked adventure wheelchair

UNIMO Adventure

Japanese company Nano Optonics Energy displayed its caterpillar-tracked UNiMO (UNIque MObility) micro EV drive train at the International Robotics Exhibition in Tokyo last week, promising new levels of personal mobility for wheelchair users…

There are two models of the UNiMO: the US$18,000 Unimo Grace which is now available for purchase and the US$10,000 UNiMO Adventure which will be available by the end of this month (November 2013).

Even more importantly, the 400 W drivetrain designated E-001 is being made available to other manufacturers to create their own micro EVs…

There are several other features which set the UNiMO apart from the competition. One is its seat which has a 30 degree power tilt-up function to assist the mobility handicapped to get into and out of the driving seat independently. It also has a lockable trunk.

It’s the Adventure model, which looks likely to generate the majority of retail sales for the company as it will sell for little more than half the price of the Grace, has an identical power-train and marginally better performance. Though the Grace is no misnomer, that elegance comes at a hefty premium.

The 85 kg Adventure model is only a few kilograms lighter than its stablemate, but without the designer panels to get scratched, and without restricted ground clearance due to the low skirts of the Grace, it will no doubt become a beloved workhorse for those outward-bound spirits who are restricted to wheelchairs.

Both models have regenerative braking and use the same 15 Ah phosphate lithium ion battery for a range of approximately 20 km (12 mi) – it’s just the body that is different.

They can can climb kerbs, go through ditches, up slopes, traverse a 15 cm (6 in) gap, tackle open ground, lawn, snow, mud or even take you across the beach to the water’s edge – almost all the places where you wouldn’t go with a traditional wheelchair without a sizeable entourage.

One of these days, this may be just what I need to continue my wanderings on the Caja del Rio mesa.

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