A Sussex engineer who has devoted a 40-year career to improving the lives of young people with complex physical and learning disabilities has been shortlisted for an international innovation award, Dr Martin Langner, resident engineer at Chailey Heritage Foundation, has been working on new ways to give young people greater autonomy and independence when using powered wheelchairs.
Himself a Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth, Martin has been collaborating with fellow engineers and scientists, Prof David Sanders and Dr Malik Haddad, to develop digital systems that allow young people with the most complex physical disabilities to navigate their environment as independently as possible.
Martin has been working at Chailey Heritage since the early 1980s and has developed a range of wheelchair guidance methods, including control systems, that rely on head and eye movements to electronic bumpers that steer users away from obstacles.
Martin said: “Working with the young people at Chailey Heritage has taught me so much about human determination to succeed. “I have been humbled many times and their courage has encouraged me to come up with more innovative solutions to give them more independence.
“Our latest work with new intelligent digital systems gives young people a real sense of ownership. “They choose the direction of travel rather than the technology taking over.”
Martin and the team from the University of Portsmouth have been shortlisted for two prestigious E&T (Engineering and Technology) Innovation Awards.