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Robotic Wheel Chair Climbs Upstairs

Robotic Wheel Chair Climbs Upstairs

A new robotic wheelchair goes almost anywhere…

A prototype robotic wheelchair fitted with an array of sensors could give the disabled more mobility. The new chair, designed by a group of researchers at the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan, can swivel on its axis, climb up stairs, on to curbs and over obstacles.

The wheelchair has four-wheel drive, five axes of motion, and robotic legs on which the wheels are attached. The vehicle can also deploy stabilizes, which allow it to turn in tight circles without falling over.

robotic wheelchair climbs stairs

Robotic Wheelchair Climbs Stairs and Over Obstacles

Sensors on the legs and feet measure how big an obstacle is, and even if they don’t calculate the dimensions correctly, the wheels have sensors that kick into action when they touch something. These sensors also measure traction on the wheels. By using a combination of these reading the wheelchair is able to reliably detect the surface ahead.

To operate the wheel chair the user simple pushes a joystick in the direction the wish to go, the onboard sensors then do the rest. The robot also controls the seat so it stays level when moving.

Lead researcher Shuro Nakajima, said

“We were particular about using wheels, because this kind of vehicle will mostly move on ordinary paved surfaces. The most efficient way of getting around on paved surfaces is to use wheels, like a car. So, this robot mainly uses wheels, but the wheels can become legs…

“For now, we’re presenting this system and form as a concept, and the motion has mostly been worked out. So, we’re at the stage where we can show this robot to the world. In the next phase, we’ll get a variety of people to try it, so we can fine-tune the user experience.” [Diginfo]

The chair is still just a prototype, however if the ongoing test prove successful, the robotic wheelchair could revolutionize the way the disabled are able to get around.


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  1. Don Kennedy and Ryo Osuga: Robotic wheelchair from Chiba Tech turns wheels into legs and climbs over steps. Diginfo, 10/15/2012.

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