Wizzybugging about

One of Bath University’s specialist organisations has designed a vehicle which allows young children with disabilities to get around their homes and gardens.

The Wizzybug, an electric mobility toy specifically for two-to-five year olds, took engineers at the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering in the university’s School for Health three years to develop.

The mobility vehicle, developed in close partnership with the charity Whizz-Kidz, has a range of eight kilometres (almost five miles) on a single battery charge, travels up to almost three km/hr (two mph) and weighs 31kg (69 lb).

It features a fully adjustable seating system, with a unique ‘tilt in space’ feature for any child up to 20kg (44lb), a programmable joystick control and foam cushions for comfort and support. It is also small and light enough to fit into the boot of a car.

The engineers have worked closely with children with disabilities, their parents and occupational therapists from the Royal United Hospital in Bath.

‘The main thing about the Wizzybug is that it is fun to use,’ said Prof Roger Orpwood, director of the Institute.

‘For children to get the most out of the Wizzybug, we had to make sure that it is something they would want to use. It goes fairly quickly, and has a hook so they can fix a trailer to it, making it a really fun thing to use. It works both indoors and out, so gives them a real opportunity to explore and engage in the kinds of activities they want to,’ he added.

Successful evaluation trials of the Wizzybug have been completed in Derby, Nottingham and Bath.