Israel is looking to equip every soldier with an electric wheelchair to help them move around the country, but the first thing they must do before taking to the streets is learn how to use one.
The country has a population of some 2.5 million people but has only about 10,000 electric-assisted vehicles.
Many Israelis fear the government will soon put an end to the program.
A pilot program began in 2015 and will be rolled out nationwide this year, though it has yet to hit the roads.
Israel has long struggled with its electric-vehicle fleet.
Some have been left behind due to the country’s antiquated infrastructure, and others are still on the sidelines due to a lack of incentives.
The Israeli military, which runs about 50,000 of the vehicles, said in a statement it would equip every Israeli with an “electronic wheelchair.”
The goal is to equip each soldier with a device that can help them navigate obstacles, use the internet, listen to music and navigate traffic, said Major General Zvi Eisenberg, director of the Ministry of Defense.
The electric wheelchair is not meant to replace an ordinary wheelchair, but instead to enable soldiers to use it on roads that are too narrow or bumpy for a normal wheelchair.
The military has been studying how the technology could work in combat and how it could be used in a variety of other situations, including road safety.
In the past, the military has tried to buy off-the-shelf electric-powered vehicles to use on roads, but in recent years, the number of electric vehicles on Israeli roads has dwindled, said Eisenberg.
It is unclear whether Israel will begin selling its own electric vehicles to civilians as it seeks to expand its fleet of the wheelchairs.
Despite the electric-wheelchair initiative, Eisenberg said the Israeli military will not be providing incentives for the purchase of the new devices.
For now, Eisenberger said, Israel will rely on other companies and its own incentives to help equip soldiers with the technology.
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