#MIT #Researchers #Engineering #Disabled #Elderly Self-Driving Wheelchair

Category: Technology/ Sensors / Wheelchair / Engineering

Industry: Technology / Vehicles

Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT

Related to: Elderly / Disabled

Reviewer: Flore van den Akker-Parsons School of Design-Integrated Design

Company: Researchers at MIT

Website: https://www.wired.com/2017/02/mits-new-wheelchair-drives/


Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a self-driving wheelchair, in order to help the elderly, and the disabled to experience as much independence as possible.Daniela Rus, a researcher at MIT who begun the project thought of the idea after noticing the number of elderly and disabled in wheelchairs, and the lack of ‘staff’ available to help them navigate in their preferred way.

The wheelchair mimics current self-driving cars, through its elements, including three liDAR sensors (a “remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges to the earth.”)Prior to using the wheelchair, an individual must manually drive it through a specified area, during which the sensors records, documents the space, creating a map. Once the elderly, or disabled is in the chair, they are able to pinpoint a location on the map, and navigate there. As the wheelchair is moving, it uses its sensors to track whether there are any new objects, etc., which weren’t there earlier-and is therefore able to avoid them.

While the technology within the wheelchair is very advanced, the machine is not-yet ready to be sold. Rus explains how the machine still needs to be taught certain key features, and how to make more complex decisions and predictions. Before selling the wheelchair on a larger scale, Rus explains that her team would need a larger number of resources.


In the comments section on the website, someone brought up the argument that those who are disabled would want more control, rather than less control. While, the commenter may have brought up a good point, the self-driving wheelchair could work to benefit numerous people.