A Wheelchair that Sees

Researchers are developing an electric-powered wheelchair that adapts to different terrains

(RxWiki News) Researchers from Florida State University and the University of Pittsburg are developing a new tool that will help those in electric wheelchairs safely navigate difficult terrain.

Led by Emmanuel Collins, the John H. Seely Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering and director of Florida State's Center for Intelligent Systems, Control and Robotics, the researchers are repurposing an instrument originally developed for battlefield use by the military. Known as a laser line striper, the device will give electric-powered wheelchairs the ability to analyze and identify terrain in order to adapt its controls to suitable and safer settings.

While the device has yet to be fully implemented, Collins says he is excited about the potential of applying battlefield technology to to the civilian sector. This type of automatic terrain-sensing technology can help injured soldiers and others by providing increased mobility and independence. It could potentially give those in electric-powered wheelchairs the ability to participate in more vigorous recreational activities.

Review Date: 
January 3, 2011