At Hatfield House, in the Hertfordshire countryside on a typically wet English summer day, actor David Proud is taking a pretty special set of wheels out for a spin.

The former EastEnders star has the condition spina bifida and has always used a wheelchair to get around. He was, therefore, an ideal candidate to test drive a unique innovation in mobility technology.

AddSeat has been created to allow wheelchair users the freedom to reach places they previously wouldn’t have been able to.

The Swedish invention, which was recently launched in the UK, has been developed over several years, shaped by continual monitoring of customer feedback and reworking of the design to fit their needs.

The device is based on the market’s best Segway PT Gyro, offering groundbreaking driving control.

It can turn on its axis and is able to take on almost any terrain, from snow and sand, to the country tracks at Hatfield House.

“There are so many things to like about it,” says David (pictured above).

“It’s embracing new technology, which is amazing, and it really handled everything I chucked at it, in terms of all the different terrains I came across.

“I live in the country so I would probably be using it every single week, going about and exploring. Just to be able to go to different places, like the park, without even having to think about it was great.”

Chief engineer Ian Thompson was partly inspired by Professor X’s wheelchair in the X-Men films while working on the project.

He was also motivated by the need to improve the usability and comfort of mobility vehicles generally.

The initial idea, however, is credited to Swedish Paralympic Gold medallist Marit Sundin.

The gyro wheelchair is built on a durable chassis, with a height-adjustable seat, allowing users to sit higher for eye-to-eye conversations.

With a footprint as small as a manual wheelchair, getting the AddSeat into an elevator or transporting it in a car is relatively easy.

The built-in AirRide works as a shock absorber making obstacles such as pavilions and roots less annoying.

Meanwhile, the seats are designed for maximum comfort, inspired by those used by long-distance truck drivers who spend hours in their seat.

As a result, the AddSeat user can also happily spend all day in the chair without discomfort.

“It is really comfortable, and I felt really safe in it,” says David. “It was a lot sturdier than I thought and the seating was very springy.”

Unlike in a manual chair, David didn’t have to worry about becoming too tired, giving him the freedom to be out and about all day, spending more quality time with family and friends.

And, despite initial concerns about how long the battery would last, he was most impressed by the power range of the chair, which allowed him to be out for the full day.

“You see other devices which are battery operated and the battery only seems to last about two minutes! But actually you could run this all day, quite happily, so that was really unexpected.

“The range would probably be the biggest consideration for me in terms of investing in one. The battery technology in the AddSeat means that it’s useful for a lot more of the day than other chairs I’ve used.”

There were other unexpected benefits too, such as having hands free to hold an umbrella.

“In my manual chair, I need two hands to push it, so I wouldn’t even hold a brolly,” says David, who wouldn’t have been able to go out in the rain were in not for the AddSeat.

“It seems like the smallest little thing, but I’m out, getting fresh air, I can hold a brolly and move on terrain I wouldn’t normally be able to move on. Being able to go places and do things. It’s priceless.”

However, as with most cutting-edge technology, the AddSeat is relatively expensive, setting wheelchair users back around £12,500.

This, for David, is the only downside, and the reason why he returned to his manual chair following his test drive.

“It is the future technology, completely. It’s just the Tesla of wheelchair technology. For a lot of users, that price point is just out of reach.

“Inevitably when new technology comes out, there isn’t much thinking about the cost and over time it will become more affordable to the masses.

“I’m always big on championing great new technology to get the manufacturers selling enough so that they can bring the price down.

“For the people that need it, it’s not a luxury, it’s something that can really open up a whole lot of activities for them and their families.”

David would like to see AddSeats being sold to organisations, such as parks, visitor centres and stately homes, for their visitors to hire.

“Then I’d be able to go to my nearest stately home and hire one, for say, a payment of £10 for a couple of hours, to be able to go and enjoy it with my family. It would be lovely to have more places like that.

“It’s great fun and it really does turn a lot of heads… and I think a lot of kids will love it.” Hopefully one day, in the not too distant future, all wheelchair users will have access to mobility technology such as the AddSeat.

“I would encourage more people to actually have a go. It would be lovely to see more wheelchair users embracing the battery technology, in their mobility devices.

“Just imagine how amazing the world would be if every wheelchair user had one of these. It would just be incredible,” David adds.

For more information on the AddSeat visit