Wheels are the most efficient way to get around, but they can't take you everywhere. This new robotic wheelchair designed in Japan can go almost anywhere, however--it can swivel its axles up and down to climb up stairs, onto curbs or over obstacles.
All the user has to do is move a joystick to point it in the desired direction, and the robo-chair figures out what to do. Sensors on its feet detect the distance to nearby obstacles and determine their size. The chair will stabilize itself in the best position to hoist one of its front wheels, like a rider straddling a horse.
It has four-wheel drive and five axes of motion, including the ability to deploy horizontal stabilizers and spin in a tight circle. This would make it easier to back up or change directions, even in tight spaces. The chair is still a prototype, with ongoing tests at the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan.
The video clearly shows the wheelchair negotiating widely spaced steps and not stairs. Please have your headline editor read the article and view the video. It is also evident that this device cannot climb stairs.
It is another great wheelchair concept. I had the opportunity to test ride the iBot wheelchair both when it was under development and after it went to the market. Sadly, the real critical problem this wheelchair developer will face is not developing a wheelchair capable of climbing stairs. The iBot could do that too. The issue is getting insurance to cover the cost of the wheelchair. Unless they can come up with a practical design that is the same price as a current chair on the market, insurance won't cover the price. Insurance does not view the ability to climb stairs (no matter how important that may be) as a medical necessity. Without insurance, no one can afford the cost of an electric chair. I tried to buy an iBot. Insurance would not pay anything towards it because it was not approved. Charities would not help pay more than $400 toward the $24,000 price tag (which believe me, is not as outrageous as it sounds). Ultimately, the iBot, which was brilliantly designed was taken off market.
with a name like wildcatherder, everyone will take you serious...
This is great!!!
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2x on the no stair climbing - at least no normal stairs.
Maybe it's a proof of concept, but it's hard to see how they could ever make it work for any commonly encountered stairs.
I would hate to see this go up stairs.
This is a cool idea, but once again it seems a little slow. Imagine going up a long flight of stairs...