Rollator helps people help themselves

23 October 2020

By Bongani Ramatsetse

Tshwane University of Technology Electrical Engineering lecturer, Tsholofelo Modise, does not only teach her students the tricks of the trade but is also making knowledge useful with her ingenuity – in particular with her invention, called the Robotic Rollator.

Tsholofelo Modise, Lecturer at the Department of Electrical Engineering and the inventor of the Robotic Rollator.

The Robotic Rollator, which has already caught the attention of the media, assists physically impaired people to walk by providing movement assistance, whether they are in a sitting or standing position, which depends on their strength or ability.

‘‘The interface control system of the rollator incorporates the user’s movement capability. It promotes physical activeness to ultimately improve and restore mobility and to avoid problems that may arise from prolonged hours of sitting usually associated with wheelchair use,’’ says Tsholofelo.

The invention, for which she partnered with Dr Nico Steyn, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Electrical Engineering, is set to significantly change the lives of physically impaired people. 

Being an entrepreneur, Tsholofelo looked at the invention from a business point of view, but her biggest motivator is still to help people help themselves. The motivation behind the robotic rollator was brought about by the need to limit social and environmental factors affecting physically impaired people, while also promoting social inclusion. 

Tsholofelo says people with walking disabilities still have unmet needs for assistive devices. The Robotic Rollator will be able to assist them with certain daily activities.

Tsholofelo and Dr Steyn plan to expand their invention to the market level. ‘‘We are looking at the development of the first batch of units that will be marketed according to real market conditions under the start-up, Augmented Mobility (PTY) LTD. This batch will test the market interest, assist in determining the product price, define the functionality, and contribute to the product improvement for scaling,’’ Tsholofelo adds. 

The Robotic Rollator research was initiated in 2015 and the prototype was finalised in 2018.

Tsholofelo is currently pursuing a PhD.

She regards her biggest achievements as obtaining her Master’s Degree and being the winner of the 2018 Gauteng Accelerated Programme. 

As a young woman, who achieved so much already, she stays determined to explore even more successes. ‘‘Embrace your individuality and your womanhood. Do not be afraid of the unknown. You are more than capable to achieve anything you put your mind to,” she concludes. 

The Robotic Rollator prototype that assists the physically impaired.

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