Freedom Lift to Debut ATRS in April

The Automated Transfer & Retrieval System (ATRS) from Green Lane, Pa.-based Freedom Lift has been a long time in the making. World Congress on Disabilities attendees got a sneak peak in November, and the working unit is expected to roll out at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conference in St. Louis in April.

Bob Smith, VP of sales/marketing, says the unit should be available nationwide by June. "Initially there will be approximately 40 individual high-profile dealers that will be promoting (the ATRS) and then installing the system in vehicles," he says. The company plans to add more locations in the future.

Currently, the ATRS is undergoing nationwide beta testing, which Smith says will enable Freedom Lift to fine tune the system.

"We're trying to use a wide cross section of the population of individuals with limited mobility," says Smith. "We hope to do a total of eight beta sites around the country prior to the introduction. What we basically get from that is they are in constant communication with us, and we watch them follow through the steps, making sure there are no hiccups in the system, making sure that the system is fine tuned (and) get some feedback on how everything is working. We want to make sure we do that before rolling out the final product."

The beta tests started in Philadelphia and are expected to expand to Florida, the New England States, Texas, California and Phoenix.

The ATRS includes three components: a freedom seat to facilitate unassisted seat-to-seat transfers; a standard wheelchair lift with a dock and lock system that comes out of the back of the vehicle; and a proprietary guidance and communication system that includes an integrated user interface, such as a key fob or handheld computer, for controlling the system.

Smith says so far the response has been tremendous. "It's such a wide range of people with limited mobility that are looking at this," he says. "It's not only a paraplegic that can drive an automobile, but it can be an elderly person who just has lower extremity issues, severe arthritis, where they just can't be independent ? We're very excited about that from the standpoint that we think that this is not going to be a replacement for a van conversion but it's going to provide individuals with an alternative to converting a van."

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