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VMI's Tim Barone join likes of Colin Powell

VMI's Tim Barone join likes of Colin Powell �These young men and ladies gave their lives, limbs and health for us, and this is a small token of our appreciation�

PHOENIX - Tim Barone, CEO of Phoenix-based Vantage Mobility International (VMI), was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) in April.

The award, which has also been given to the likes of Colin Powell, Toby Keith and Tom Brokaw, recognizes organizations or individuals who have greatly aided veterans.

HME News recently spoke to Barone about everything from VMI's military program and to where we're at with autonomous vehicles.

HME News: Why do veterans hold a special place at VMI?

Tim Barone: The American troops that we serve now all went over healthy and came back (as para- and quadriplegics), so this is something they gave for our country, something they were born with. These young men and ladies gave their lives, limbs and health for us, and this is a small token of our appreciation.

HME: How does VMI's military program work?

Barone: The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) we do business with—Toyota, Honda and Chrysler—have a $1,000 mobility rebate program. Our Operation Independence rebate is $1,000 and then we've got another program with USAA that is $1,000, as well. They can all be added on top of each other so if you're a USAA member buying one of VMI's products we can knock off $3,000.

HME: Self-driving cars are on the horizon. How could they help people with disabilities, and is the industry ready?

Barone: One of the main concerns with autonomous vehicles is the fact that America is a very litigious society. If there's nobody driving the vehicle and someone's killed, who's responsible? Which company is going to pay? The OEMs, especially the ones that have their corporate culture developed in Japan, are very allergic to U.S. (lawsuits), so there's been some discussion in Washington about bringing up a bill that would find no fault with the OEM if people do get injured or killed. I think autonomous vehicles are going to happen in our lifetime. They still have a ways to go technologically, but I think that's the biggest impact on wheelchair accessible vehicles coming down on the horizon.


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