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Efforts of NOAA 3-1-8 Saginomiya, Nakano-ku, Tokyo

A Sleek, Compact Mobility Scooter That Delivers the Joy of Travel to People Who'd Given Up On It

Wanting to Change the "For the Physically Challenged" Image

NOAA Co., Ltd. had always dealt in nursing care beds and electric wheelchairs. In May 2020, it launched a new product: a compact, light, and stylish mobility scooter called “JOY Cart” (NOAA MOBILE-X). The scooter was developed while listening to actual users—such as people with disabilities and the elderly—and by controlling everything in-house, from design, to manufacturing, to sales. Dispelling the existing image of "for the physically challenged" will reduce people's mental roadblocks and encourage them to travel. We spoke about the project to Mr. Motonari Nishihara of NOAA Co., Ltd., who was in charge of development.

Suitcase-Sized Portability, Universal Maneuverability, and a Sleek Design

Existing mobility scooters for seniors suffer from this strong negative image that they're for the elderly. Before we developed MOBILE-X, I'd also bought another company's mobility scooter for my elderly mother. However, she quickly abandoned using it because she did not like people looking at her like she was already old enough to use something like that. I thought, "This has to change," and came up with the idea of making a new product myself. That idea went on to trigger the development of MOBILE-X.
That's why I was so particular about the design. In fact, many people besides my mother told us they'd feel self-conscious using the existing products in town. That prompted us to choose a sophisticated metallic design for MOBILE-X. Now, when we test-drove it, people would gather round wanting to try it for themselves.
It also has excellent maneuverability. It has handlebars and built-in electromagnetic brakes, so even beginners can master it in no time, and it climbs slopes of up to 13 degrees.When you go downhill, an automatic brake comes on, so that is safe, too. In addition, the width of the vehicle is the same as the width of a person, so it is possible to pass through aisles without worrying about the width of the aisles, as is the case with ordinary wheelchairs. Despite its compact size, the wheelchair is certified as a wheelchair, so it can enter buildings and board trains as is.
And the biggest feature is its portability. Combining a compact lithium-ion battery and lightweight materials used in aircraft, we created a scooter that weighs about 20 kg, which is foldable, and so compact that it can fit neatly into a suitcase. You can easily put it in a car or take it on a bullet train or airplane, then use it at your destination. If you're coming from overseas, shipping a mobility scooter can be a problem, and arranging an electric wheelchair can also be difficult. I think JOY Cart can solve these kinds of problems, too.

Accessible of “Last one mile”

As people age, many are returning or considering returning their driver's licenses. As they get older, it becomes difficult for them to walk even short distances. Even if they take a cab or other means to a shopping mall, they still have to walk from the parking lot to the inside of the building or to the shopping district. People say that this last one mile is so difficult that many people give up going out and stay indoors; with JOY Cart, the last one mile can be conquered because it can be folded up, loaded into a cab, and assembled and used in about 10 seconds after arriving at the destination. We believe that when people are comfortable going out, they can go where they want to go of their own volition, select and purchase products on their own, and interact with people on the street and in stores, leading to a life of independence and social connectedness. I believe that continuing this kind of social life will lead to an increase in healthy life expectancy.

Proposing New "Accessible" Uses

In recent years, we have proposed the use of JOY Carts at campsites as a new way to use the carts. Campsites are large and it is difficult to carry heavy camping equipment and firewood, so the carts can be used to move around and carry things.
The response from users has been positive, with children in particular actively requesting to use the carts, saying that they want to help by riding in them.
By using the machine as part of their leisure time, children can grow up without prejudice against welfare tools and learn the wheelchair's perspective. Another advantage is that by becoming familiar with the machine at an early age, they can operate it without fear when they are older.
We believe that the JOY Cart is a product that can be used not only as a wheelchair, but also for carrying heavy objects, traveling long distances, and eliminating prejudice against wheelchairs.
It will also be useful in emergency evacuations.
In the future, we would like to contribute to the promotion of accessible tourism by actively participating in exhibitions, materializing the rental business, and holding events so that more people will have the opportunity to learn about our product.

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