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Yamaha "JW-II" electric power-assist unit for wheelchairs wins 1st Prize in "7th Mellow Grand Prix"

January 18, 2000

Since 1996, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. (YMC) has been marketed its "JW-II" as the world's first wheelchair power unit that employs the electric power-assist technology developed for the Yamaha P.A.S. (Power Assist System) electro-hybrid bicycle, and these units have won high acclaim both at home and abroad. Now this product has won the 1st Prize of the "7th Mellow Grand Prix" in the life and environment equipment category of the products and services field. This JW-II is a hybrid unit that augments the manual force applied to the wheels by the rider with a power assist from an electric motor.

The Yamaha "JW-II"

The Yamaha "JW-II"

The Mellow Grand Prix, now in its seventh holding, is a prize established in 1991 by the Mellow Society Forum, a private sector organization, as a part of Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry's (MITI) "Mellow Society" program aimed at creating the kind of receptive society where the elderly can live healthy and active lives. The prize is given in recognition of products that contribute to such a society or agency programs that actively aid participation of the elderly in society. The judging committee, chaired by Professor Emeritus Takemochi Ishii of Tokyo University, has twelve members including the commentator Daizo Kusayanagi and Director Shinichiro Ota of the MITI's Machinery and Information Industries Bureau. The award ceremony for the 7th Mellow Grand Prix winners will be held on February 23 and an exhibition of examples of the awarded products will be held in conjunction with the Symposium 2000 at the Asahi Hall in Yurakucho, Tokyo on February 25.

The JW-II unit consists of the two wheels containing all the drive-unit functions, attachment brackets, a nickel-metal hydrogen battery and special charger and is extremely lightweight at a total of 15.8 kg. By mounting the uniton any existing manual wheelchair it can easily be converted into an electric power-assist wheelchair. The fact that the wheelchair can still be folded up with the JW-II unit on it not only makes it easy to store, carry or load into an automobile, but also contributes to active participation in society by the handicapped and the elderly by reducing the physical demands of moving about by wheelchair. What's more, with the start of Yamaha's OEM supply of the JW-II units to three European wheelchair makers in May of 1999, it is now winning high acclaim in Europe as well.

As part of our efforts to make a contribution in the increasingly important health-welfare field and provide practical solutions for the "aging society" phenomenon that confronts many nations today, Yamaha has been applying its control technologies and drive system technologies to the development of elec tric power-assist units for wheelchairs since the first half of the 1990s. Among the products of the JW series, besides the recently awarded JW-II, are the JW-I, which is an electric power drive system incorporating state-of-the-art industrial robotics technology and, planned for release in April of this year, the new JW-III, a full-time electric wheelchair.

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