P. E., Geiser, C., Chang, K. W., Lu, J. M., Hsu, Y. L.; recommended:
Yeh-Liang Hsu (2012-08-02);
Note: This paper is presented at 2012 International Society of
Gerontechnology World Conference, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e), the
Netherlands, June 26~29, 2012. This paper is also published at Gerontechnology 2012; 11(2): 127-128;
Development of an intelligent robotic wheelchair
Mobility is one of the fundamental requirements of the quality of
life of the older adults. Observing older adults with low mobility living in a nursing
home or in home environment, the wheelchair is the place where they spend most of
their time in everyday living. For older adults who cannot move a manual wheelchair
themselves, the situation is endless waiting and a loss of vitality. Using an electrical
wheelchair is one option. However, operating an electrical wheelchair is often
difficult. This paper describes the development of an intelligent
robotic wheelchair (iRW) which integrates
advanced robotic and telehealth solutions. In addition to providing mobility
assistance, the iRW also attempts to
integrate and satisfy the needs of everyday living, healthcare, and social
The iRW (Figure 1) is
composed of a moving vehicle, a sensing/control module and an information/communication
module to provide mobility aids and to support everyday living and healthcare.
Equipped with 4 Mecanum wheels, the user can freely control the iRW in all
directions, including moving sideways. In addition to manual control, an automated
guided vehicle (AGV) type indoor navigation system based on quick response code
(QR code) can guide the iRW move from site to site automatically. Besides, the multiple
degrees-of-freedom seat adjustment mechanism based on Stewart platform
and the ergonomically designed seat enable relaxed sitting in preferred
postures, as well as lifting and transfer assistance. Equipped with soft pressure
sensors, the seat also provides automatic pressure relief function by timely
adjusting the seat mechanism. Moreover, the telehealth system in the form of a
digital photo frame running on a tablet PC serves as the platform of health
care management and as the information channel between the wheelchair user and
his family or caregivers.
Figure 1. The prototype of the iRW
Results & Discussion
To prepare a
field test for the iRW confirming the
usability and praxis capability, 20 healthy adults participated in a laboratory
evaluation. This evaluation was based on several typical tasks of everyday
living on a wheelchair, in order to compare the differences in usability between
a manual wheelchair and the iRW. In
the user-satisfaction questionnaire, participants rated all functions,
including operation interface, maneuverability, seat adjustment, etc., from 5 (totally
satisfied) to 1 (totally not satisfied). Operation time of each task was also
measured. The results show that the time of exploration using the iRW for each task was similar or longer.
But concerning the user-satisfaction of mobility assistance and seat
adjustment, the testers were satisfied with most of the functions provided by
the iRW. The peak seating pressure of
the iRW, which has versatile seat
adjustment capability, was only half of that of the manual wheelchair.
According to the results of the laboratory evaluation, the iRW has a good potential to help the older adults interact with the
home environment more effectively and actively, while improving the quality of
Keywords: robotic wheelchair, indoor
navigation, Stewart platform, home telehealth system.
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