Chailey man wins international award

Earlier this month we reported that A Chailey engineer had been nominated for an international award, the man who has devoted a 40-year career to improving the lives of young people with complex physical and learning disabilities has won two international awards.

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.

Martin and the team from the University of Portsmouth have won two prestigious E&T (Engineering and Technology) Innovation Awards.

There were almost 70 finalists from across the world.

Competing with them in their category of Outstanding Innovation in Digital Health and Social Care were entries featuring robotic hands and non-invasive skin cancer detection.

The E&T Innovation Awards recognise the engineers and scientists producing innovative and creative solutions that improve lives and have a potential global benefit.

Martin said:  “I am absolutely thrilled to have won these awards.  I love working with the children at Chailey Heritage and I feel privileged to know them and play a part in their lives.

“I hope this award will help to continue progress to improve the lives of young people with disabilities.”

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 hopes that the recognition gained from being associated with the awards will encourage more collaboration between teams working on similar technologies.