Friday, September 27, 2013

GoBabyGo: It's Like 'Top Gear' for Children with Limited Mobility

People seem to talk all the time about how much learning happens within a very small window of time during childhood. Children's curiosity and ability to explore their surroundings is extremely important in making cognitive process and developing social skills. But what, then, happens to those children who have mobile limitations and are unable to crawl or walk around the unfamiliar parts of their environments?

Dr. Cole Galloway, professor of physical therapy and University of Delaware, was been working to get around this predicament. Galloway saw that motorized chairs that would give some independence to users aren't usually available to kids until they are older, so he decided to develop his own chairs in a project called GoBabyGo. He quickly found that his high-tech robotics were too expensive and could not easily be produced in a volume that met demand, but eventually decided to try fixing up a product that was already on the market: battery powered toy cars.

Galloway and his tiny client in a converted Tow Mater toy.
Galloway took the Barbie Jeeps and Lightning McQueens and gave them a little race car tune up. The augmented toys have padded safety cages, seat belt harnesses, and custom driver controls to suit the users' needs. His cars are tested by his clients on both and indoor and outdoor tracks, and he even has traveling seminars to teach families how to convert their own motorized toys to make them more accessible.

It doesn't end here with Galloway. The success of GoBabyGo prompted him to design the prototype for UDare2B, aka Big Blue, a toy car with a specific purpose and a lot of tech. Big Blue's egg shape makes it look sleek, fierce, and futuristic, but it also acts as a support and a protective roll cage of sorts. It has an adaptive steering system that lets the controls be adjusted to the physical abilities of the driver. Additionally, the tight turning radius, compact size, and light weight make it highly maneuverable and suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Computerized monitoring in the cars log data to help researchers learn how they are being used by children.
UDare2Be / Big Blue

It seems like a pretty big undertaking, but the project could produce a working model of Big Blue in about a year if all goes well, and there is already commercial interest from adult mobility scooter companies. This would mean having clinically effective and real-world ready vehicles for young children, which is awesome.

What do you think of the design? How about Dr. Galloway's endeavor as a whole? Share your thoughts!


  1. It looks really cool. Which should be nice for kids who are often stuck with "serviceable" or downright dorky equipment.

    1. Yes! These kids will be the talk of the town...for the RIGHT reasons!