Robot wheelchair that can climb stairs and descend steep terrain
A robotic wheelchair that can climb up stairs and inclines with ease has been developed by Chiba Institute of Technology, led by Shuro Nakajima. This wheelchair has four wheel drive and five axis of movement to provide maximum freedom to the user while using it and the controls are actuated via a joystick which is used to tell the direction in which to move, the rest of the balancing and using the wheels as legs is done automatically by the wheelchair itself. Robotics of this wheelchair has various sensors in the wheels to assess nearby terrain and the kind of movement needed to push forward. To make sure that the user is at all times stable in upright position while ascending or descending steps and uneven surfaces the wheelchair automatically controls the seating.
Apart from all this movement the robotic wheelchair is capable of turning in a circle for easy navigation in confined spaces or while reversing courtesy the five axis feature which allow it to align up the wheels and swing the stabilizers to left or right. Right now the robot wheelchair is in concept stage and according to Shuro the next step is to test it with more users to fine tune the various elements before finally pushing it into production.