Whill Ci - My new Disney ride (also available for rental Scootaround)

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by arminnie, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    I got my new device last week, and I LOVE it. The Whill Ci is called an Electric Vehicle (EV) as it was not submitted for approval to the FDA as a wheelchair. It has been available since January 2018. It is so EASY to drive - much easier than the scooter I owned (Drive).

    I cannot wait to use this at Disney. It will be so much easier to park on the bus. I loved using it at the grocery store as I could turn around in an aisle without having to go do a 3 point turn at the end of an aisle. I can go directly up to a table at a restaurant without having to try to position the scooter (and take up the space of two chairs. I can turn around in my galley kitchen.

    It's been raining here so I have not gone outside with it. But all the demos show it working well on grass and small gravel. I haven't been in my backyard in two years - so looking forward to it especially now if the heat ever breaks.

    Scootaround has recently made the Whill Ci available for rental in Orlando. I have not ever used Scootaround nor did I buy from them so I can't vouch for them personally. But it is a very large company with many locations around the country. Their web site states that you have to accept it in person for some training and that you must take out the insurance.

    One of the greatest features is the ability to drive it remotely from an iphone app. In the picture I took below I got out of the Whill into a chair and then remotely drove the EV over to my rollator so I could compare the two in size in the picture. At night I transfer to my bed and then remotely park the EV across the room. I "call it back" in the morning. I can also lock it remotely from my iphone. As with a scooter there is a freewheel option.

    I think the Whill remote driving app could be of immense help for someone who does not have the strength to push someone in a manual wheelchair at Disney all day but the chair passenger is not able to drive an ECV or self propel.

    Here's a picture of my rollator and Whill Ci next to each other The arms on the Whill lift up, and the seat folds down. The device weighs about 115 pounds. It comes apart in 3 pieces so can fit in most trunks.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. GranJan1

    GranJan1 Earning My Ears

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    I’ve been interested in the Whill since I saw your 1st post about it. It seems great but I feel the price is too high. My husband insists that I’m worth it. I use a small power chair full time inside & out. I have the Golden Envy. The ability to disassemble is important since we don’t have a lift. I don’t drive so my husband is always there to load & unload. As long as he’s able to do that we won’t invest in a lift. Several features of the Whill interest me. One is the size...it’s not much narrower than mine but I like the fact that the front wheels don’t swivel out like mine do. If I get close to anything & back up, my front wheels swivel out & scrape. There’s a sharp edged cover over the wheels. I scraped our leather loveseat recently. I felt so bad. I still can’t figure out how the Whill can turn without the wheels swiveling. My husband has been comparing the ground clearance & incline the Whill can handle. Does it seem to handle bumps easily? We just moved to a retirement community that is very accessible for me in my chair. There’s no steps & sidewalks connect everything so I can get around everywhere. The only problem is the door thresholds on all the cottages. They have a squared off threshold about an inch, maybe more. My chair won’t make it over so we had to buy these rubber transition ramps for our front & back door. The sharp edge is on the inside so it’s not very attractive to me. We put a door mat over it so it’s Ok. If a neighbor invites me in I can’t unless I want to drag my ramp everywhere. My husband thinks the Whill could handle the thresholds without the ramps...that would be nice. We have a trip to WDW in April & it would be nice to have the Whill for that trip but we usually fly & the way the airlines beat up my current chair, I wouldn’t trust them with an expensive chair. We can drive but it’s about a 20 hr drive. I don’t really want to always drive or take my old chair if we fly. Did you order the Whill online? I’m not sure about buying it without trying it. My chair is controlled by a joystick. Do you think driving the Whill would be similar? Sorry about all the questions. I just feel that someone who uses it will have the best info. Thanks for your help.
     
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  4. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    Yes - it is terribly expensive. But I can't tell you how much it has enhanced my life. I wonder if the price will drop some in a couple of years. The model M (wheelchair approved) started out at $10,000 and is now $8000.

    I understand your concern with flying with such an expensive piece of equipment. We fortunately drive to Disney. I would suggest that you try renting one from Scootaround for your Disney trip. I think I saw where it was $180 a week. That would be a great opportunity to try one out. We don't fly much anymore - just when we go to California. If I had to fly and couldn't rent a Whill at my destination I would pack the pieces in sturdy, sturdy, sturdy boxes. Medical equipment flies free.

    Like you I wanted to see it and try it out before spending that much money. The Whill website listed distributors. None were near me. I found one national distributor that had a location in Mobile, AL. I was willing to travel the approximately 200 miles there - but it turned out that location did not carry the Whill model. I contacted Whill (via a link on the Whill website) with my interest. A couple of weeks later I got an email that one of the Whill employees was going to be in New Orleans, and I made an appointment with him. Jeremy from Whill was wonderful. He explained everything. And then he let me take it home where I got to use it for about 24 hours. I ordered it on the spot. He had been in town setting up a new distributor (Whill does not sell direct to individuals). I was Mr. Wheelchair of New Orleans' first Whill customer.

    You would have absolutely no problem with Whill going over a threshold that is about an inch. The specs say that it will go over 2 inches. I tested it on my front door entry which is right at 2". There was a slight bump going down. The front tires had no issue with going upwards over it. Not the smoothest move but not jarring. I picked up the test Whill at a hotel just outside the French Quarter in New Orleans. My first ride was thru the French Quarter where the sidewalks are terrible. I had no trouble navigating there at all. I could never have done that in my ECV.

    I have slight thresholds inside my home where it goes from wood to tile. In my manual chair it was a big problem - especially if I had to go thru a door. My doors were just barely wide enough for the manual chair. I needed to give it a big shove to get over the threshold - but then my hands would hit the door. Usually I grabbed the door and pulled my way in. It is a total non issue with the Whill.

    I have never used a joystick - but everyone mentions that there is a fairly steep learning curve and that's why most rental companies will not rent a power wheelchair to someone who does not use one already. The control on the Whill is more like a rounded button. It fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I found it very, very easy to use. It's very intuitive. Nothing jerky about the moves. Very smooth. I think that controller would be much easier for someone with a disability that affected their finger motor skills.

    The picture below is of the Whill front wheel. There are no casters at all - but those little rings turn to make it turn. I am fairly mechanical, but I have no clue how those work. But they do work - exceptionally well. I can turn around in a very small space. That piece in the middle between the wheels flips up for ease of getting in and out. The arms also go back if one chooses to enter from the side.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a picture of it when apart. The manual also shows ways to load it so you can minimize the space it takes up.

    [​IMG]

    Please let me know if you have any other questions. I love raving about how great this thing is.
     
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  5. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    8E2C4674-BD61-4C3D-AC9E-3AD10E89D63A.jpeg
    I can explain a bit more about how wheels that don’t turn can still turn a wheelchair.

    My daughter’s power wheelchair is a variation of the one in this picture. In the back, there are casters that can rotate and turn in any direction. They don’t actually turn the chair though; they just go wherever the front wheels push or pull them.
    The front wheels each have their own motor, which work independently. The motors are controlled by a computer, which gets directions for what to do from the joystick (or kind of a ‘mushroom button’ in the Whill). When you are going straight, each motor is pretty much getting the same instructions in terms of speed.
    When you want to turn, each motor gets different speed instructions. The wheel going faster makes that side of the wheelchair go faster than the other side, which causes the turn.

    A trackball or mushroom button is easier to use than a joystick (I’ve used both a joystick and a trackball on a computer). I’m not quite sure why though. I think it may have to do with the height of the stick.
     
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  6. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    Thanks Sue - that makes sense.
     
  7. GranJan1

    GranJan1 Earning My Ears

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    Thank you so much for your helpful reply. I think we’ll check into renting one in April. It sounds great. As my husband always says about money...you can’t take it with you. If something can make life easier, it’s worth it.
     
  8. mamabunny

    mamabunny DIS Veteran

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    Congratulations on your new wheels!

    The one thing I worry about someone remotely operating a wheelchair for another person at WDW is simply that if you have to look at the screen even half the time, it may pose a safety risk. We all know the dangers of people trying to walk and: (pick one, any one) take a selfie, post to Insta, post to Facebook, text message someone, FaceTime someone, etc. I think it might prove to be highly distracting, especially for the remote driver at WDW. I could see it possibly not being such an issue at less crowded venues, however - and if a handheld remote that could be operated with one hand existed that could really be game changer for a lot of folks.

    I have to confess there was a small part of me that hoped it would "dock" itself to charge up like Baymax in Big Hero Six! Now *that* would be cool!

    My hope is now that we are seeing remotely controlled EVs like the Whill, we can someday soon see these vehicles that are controlled via either a headset, AR, or some similar technology where you will simply look where you want to drive, and drive there - just like walking.

    I truly hope that your new EV makes a real difference in the overall quality of life for you - and I can't wait to hear your first WDW trip report with your new Whill! :)


     
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  9. allie_to_you

    allie_to_you A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes...

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    We just bought one from Scootaround for my Husband. We were going to just rent, but he loved it, so decided to buy since he was ready to finally quit using a manual chair. It's been great. A little learning curve learning to drive it and turns, but it rides very smooth, handles ramps really well and is nice and compact
     
  10. cobright

    cobright DIS Veteran

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    Actually the whill Ci uses the same differential steering drive like Sue describes, but this is a fairly common system. the magic I think arminnie is referring to is how the the free wheels on the Whill are able to turn even though they do not swivel like casters. The wheels are fixed to the frame and do not turn relative to the direction of the chair.

    They are called omni-wheels. Essentially each wheel is a hub that rotates and on the outside of that hub are mounted a bunch of wheels at a 90 degree ofset from that hub. so the wheel unit can spin forward on the main hub but also side to side on whatever of the little wheel happens to be in contact with the ground.

    Here's a pic of a much simpler version than the Whill uses:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. cobright

    cobright DIS Veteran

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    I got to play with one of these for the first time last spring. I say play because my legs work just fine (touch wood). But I tinker with mobility tech and am developing some of my own. The Ci was so impressive I ordered 2 on the spot. As I integrate my systems into the Ci I can let my lady friend, Aisling, in Florida use the test unit while I keep its twin in my shop to adjust based on her feedback. And... because it is not an FDA medical device, it can be sold without a doctors note. I'm negotiating with Whill to buy a developer's kit to let me interface with it's drive controls better.

    The fact that it was able to do this built in got me off my wallet. It took me 3 years to build up a custom operating system that would let me do this. My system is better in a lot of ways (it's more like system those autonomous flying drones use) but less refined, only about a thousand hours of real world testing on it. I want to get my system integrated into the Ci at the OS level ... or sell it to Whill.

    One of the things my system does that I want to get the Ci on board with is a 'follow me' mode. The chair I designed can pair with my cell phone then keep position on me as I walk around. I don't have to control it, it just keeps the chair in the same position relative to my phone. My friend has had a rough battle with cancer and tires easily, so sometimes I'll hit follow-me and let her doze as we make our way through the park.

    Sorry to ramble on. I just saw how enthusiastic you were about this chair and had to concur. I'm a mirthless sod most of the time and this thing makes me giddy. I just wish it were faster.
     
  12. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    Cobright - I'm still pretty giddy about this now about a month after I received my Whill Ci. Glad to hear of others who found it as amazing as I have.

    I think the "follow me" option would be terrific. And I don't see why it wouldn't be doable. Once upon a time (many decades ago) I wrote operating systems in assembler code (close to machine code) so know that many, many things can be done that some say can't be done because it's too much trouble for them. I spent the last part of my career with Visa (capable of processing almost 25,000 transactions a second) and know how to do things bit by bit very efficiently.
     
  13. MineMineMine3

    MineMineMine3 Earning My Ears

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    arminnie,

    Thank you so much for posting this thread! I came to the disABILITIES forum looking for information/suggestions on renting a mobility device for my mom for our Universal trip in December. My mom had a radical mastectomy for breast cancer in the 1970s, which left her right arm/hand profoundly weak. Two years ago, she had a cervical spine surgery to stabilize her neck- decades of of wear and tear, plus the missing muscles from her chest/arm (which help support the the spine/neck) had taken its toll. She is still profoundly deconditioned- partially from remaining balance issues, the rest is her choosing to end PT early and not continuing to walk/do her assigned exercises. Regardless, she wanted to come to Universal with us to see the Harry Potter sections and swim with our 8 year old.

    In researching mobility devices, I became concerned that her right arm limitations would make using a traditional scooter difficult for her. The thread steered me to the Whill Ci, which I think will be the perfect fit!
    I was able to rent one from Scootaround- the price was not much more than a traditional scooter, except I was required to purchase their rental insurance. I will be sure to let the group know how it goes.

    Thanks again!
     
  14. GranJan1

    GranJan1 Earning My Ears

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    We’re considering renting the Whill for WDW in April. Would love to hear how it goes. I’m also wondering how soon we should reserve it. I noticed the required insurance. That made it $250 for the week. I have a small power chair so I’m questioning whether to spend that much to rent one. My husband doesn’t want to fly with mine though, after it was damaged the last time we flew. I have a cheap manual chair I’d use for the flight, then rent the Whill in Orlando.
     
  15. cmwade77

    cmwade77 DIS Veteran

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    I am curious, if this is the case, then does this mean that Disney and other venues could deny access for such a vehicle as it is not considered a wheelchair?

    Also does that mean that you have to register it with DMV if you are going to use it on public sidewalks/streets?[/QUOTE]
     
  16. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    It means it is treated like an ECV. But it is not called a mobility scooter or ECV because it does not have a tiller.

    It has not gone thru FDA approval as a wheelchair. The Whill model that is FDA approved lists for $10,000 but is usually available for $8000. This model costs $4000. Insurance does not cover it. Nor is a doctor’s prescription required.
     
  17. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    It fits into the ADA definition of ‘Other Power Driven Mobility Devices’
    https://www.ada.gov/opdmd.htm

    Since it is the same size as a power wheelchair and operates pretty much the same with the same type of batteries, it would be ‘seen’ the same as an ECV or power wheelchair as far as access.
     
  18. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    I have now had my Whill Ci for a little over a month, and it has truly been life changing. Maybe any power chair would have made a really big difference - but the ability of the Whill to handle gravel, grass and 2" curbs has been great. Plus it navigates so easily, making a sharp turn is easy, etc.

    6-9 months ago I could still use a rollator to do things like go to dinner or to the doctor. The last time I used a rollator to go to the doctor I fell (my leg collapsed) and it took 3 people to get me back up. Before I got the Whill chair I was using a Drive ECV. It was difficult to navigate. I had to make a lot of 3 point turns. In some doctors' offices there was not room for it so I had to transfer and then have my husband take the ECV back out to the waiting room.

    We bought a home in Arkansas 3 years ago before I became disabled that is on a lake with a park and a wonderful walking trail. The previous owners spent a fortune landscaping the backyard so it is almost like a park too. I had not been able to even go in my backyard for almost two years. Now I can. I LOVE now being able to use the walking trail - even if I am not "walking".

    I am still limited on going to private homes with multiple steps for entry. But we recently went to a home that had a 6" single step up into their home. My DH was able to drive it inside with me not in it, turn it around and then I could back up, sit on it and then I was able to be inside. Going back out was not a problem as I just stayed in it and took a little bump going down.

    We recently took a friend to lunch who lives in assisted living and afterwards asked her if she needed to go anyplace else after lunch. We ended up taking her to the mall to do some shopping. It was my first time in a department store in at least 2-3 years. I had so much fun. In my chair I feel like I can move and navigate around almost like a normal ambulatory person.

    I went to Pier One with my ECV last month. It was impossible to navigate all of the aisles - especially many of the turns. I went again with the Whill and I could go everyplace with no problems.

    It will be about a year before we go back to WDW. I think we are going to go in early December in 2019. I love to go at Christmas - but on our last trip I was not yet using a mobility device, and I just couldn't do everything I wanted to do.

    It's been a hard journey. I kept feeling that if I tried harder and did more PT I could get stronger. I have recently been diagnosed with CIDP which is a rare disease that attacks the nerve sheath - similar to MS and ALS but it does not involve the brain or spinal cord thank goodness. But no amount of PT makes a dead nerve work again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  19. serenitynow

    serenitynow DIS Veteran

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    Congratulations on your newfound mobility and freedom with your new Whill Ci! Enjoy!
     

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