Intelligent Autonomous Remote Controlled Electric Wheelchair
Researchers in Sweden have developed a wheelchair that can be driven manually, by remote controlled or fully autonomously (navigate on its own), which enables even the most severely handicapped people to achieve independent mobility.
With the new navigation system, users can use their head to give commands to the wheelchair. Examples of commands are ‘take the next possible left,’ ‘next possible right,’ ‘follow the wall,’ ‘turn right/left,’ ‘go straight ahead,’ ‘go through the doorway,’ etc.
It’s an ‘intelligent’ wheelchair that enhances the freedom of users by using a new navigation method that finds open and free areas where a vehicle can navigate. These free, open areas are used to create a map that can be used for navigation. New type of wheelchair prototype called MICA (Mobile Internet Connected Assistant) is connected to the Internet and can be remote controlled or driven manually, but can also navigate on its own.
The new navigation method is used to find possible routes for the wheelchair, past various obstacles, for instance. A distance-metering sensor is used to discover the surfaces that are available to the wheelchair, and the technology can also be used to ensure that the wheelchair is being used in a safe manner.
The technology provides the user with both enhanced freedom and reduced dependency on relatives and personal assistants. One prospective user group would be severely handicapped individuals who would otherwise find it difficult to steer a wheelchair. Using a computer and a mouse controlled by the head, they can steer the wheelchair through head movements alone, which would obviously open new possibilities for people who have suffered spinal injuries, for example, and substantially lost control of their arms and legs.Ultimately this new technology can be used to guide the blind and sight impaired as a complement to the cane. Since the technology also creates a map, it can also assist people who suffer from dementia and impaired memory.