Category: Orientation and Mobility

Sighted Wheelchair

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---- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: To create a prototype of a robotic wheelchair that uses three dimensional (3D) imaging to allow individuals who are blind or have low vision and use a wheelchair to "see" when navigating in the indoor and outdoor environment. Researchers at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in Sweden have developed a wheelchair that uses a laser sensor to generate a 3D map of its surroundings, which is then transferred to an on-board haptic robot, allowing the robot to navigate its way around any obstacles. The laser scanner uses time-of-flight technique. Developed by Kalevi Hyyppä and his research team at the LTU division EISLAB, the Sighted Wheelchair has a joystick for steering and the haptic robot acts as a virtual white cane. The 3D map is transferred to the haptic robot so that a visually impaired wheelchair driver can "feel or see" obstacles such as open doors or oncoming people and navigate past them. The device was tested by a student with visual impairments who found the experience similar to using a white cane. More research is necessary to improve the Sighted Wheelchair. For example, the laser can only recognize objects at a specific height, while ignoring everything above or below its field of vision. Researchers are also busy developing a new 3D camera for the chair and are hoping to have it ready for commercial use within the next five years. AUTHOR: Amar Toor. TITLE: Robotic wheelchair uses 3D imaging to 'see' for visually impaired drivers. WEBSITE: Engadget. REF:


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Sighted Wheelchair