WHILL began in 2010 with the voice of one wheelchair user saying, “I’ve even given up going to a convenience store just two blocks away,” said Satoshi Sugie, co-founder and CEO of California-based WHILL, developer of next-generation personal electric vehicles (PEVs).
“Our goal is to build a service that can be utilized normally, like public transportation.”
WHILL launched its Model Ci in the U.S. in January 2018 at the Consumer Electronics Show where the product took home the Best of Innovation award in Accessibility Tech. Since then, WHILL has expanded sales into Canada, the UK and Italy, and the company recently announced $45 million in new funding from investors, which brings total funding to $80 million, according to the company.
WHILL’s latest funding round will offer flexibility to significantly expand WHILL’s consumer product offerings, while developing and expanding its MaaS (mobility as a service) side of the business. The company plans to broaden its geographic footprint across other European countries through new partnerships, branches and employees.
Currently, WHILL, in collaboration with strategic partners, is developing self-driving and self-stopping technologies to address PRM (passengers with reduced mobility) service within airports.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in HomeCare magazine's Culture of Innovation Cover Series from October 2018. Other products in the series include: The Jamber Mug and the PPAL bedside commode.