A SCOT who vowed to “revolutionise the wheelchair” after he broke his back as a teenager has won $1 million to help make his dream a reality.

Andrew Slorance, 51, from Nairn, Scotland, saw off competition from the US, Japan and Italy to win Toyota’s Mobility Unlimited Challenge with his Phoenix i wheelchair.

The intelligent chair automatically adjusts its centre of gravity to ensure the user can be agile and stable at the same time.

The competition, from the Toyota Mobility Foundation and Nesta Challenges, was launched in 2017 in an effort to encourage innovation in assistive technologies for those with lower-limb paralysis.

Entries from other finalists included a smart wearable simulator that uses artificial intelligence to support muscles at the right time, while exoskeleton technology was exhibited in a number of entries.

Slorance broke his back when he was 14 after falling from a tree. He said his early experience motivated him to one day make the wheelchair a more desirable item.

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He said: “I remember lying in the hospital bed in Aberdeen and an occupational therapist came in and she wheeled a wheelchair up to my bed. She said ‘Andrew, I’ve got your new wheelchair for you. I hope you will agree it’s rather a nice example’.

“I looked at this thing and I thought: ‘You’ve got to be kidding right?’

"The first day I went out in that wheelchair was without doubt the worst day of my life. I felt completely immobilised because the thing was so big ... I suddenly realised everybody was looking at me."

Slorance continued: “Fairly soon after that I swore that, if no-one else did it, one day I would revolutionise the wheelchair to make it desirable, high-end tech, that actually gave you a real advancement in life.”

With his company Phoenix Instinct, Slorance went about creating the chair that he hopes will do just that. The Phoenix i’s ultra-light carbon fibre frame aids manoeuvrability, while the chair features a powered braking system which detects when the user is going downhill, managing the descent automatically.

Five awards of half a million dollars were given to finalists in January 2019 to develop their prototype devices, while the $1m prize money that Phoenix Instinct has secured will go towards bringing the company’s innovation to market.

Slorance added: “We live in a time when our fridge freezer can be smart, it can tell us the milk we put in has gone out of date.

“Yet the wheelchair is the thing you actually need every day of your life ... and it’s still got the technology from 1984. This is a game-changer.”