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i-Transport robotic vehicle gets wheelchair-bound on their feet

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December 27, 2012

The i-Transport robotic vehicle lets the wheelchair-bound reach a standing position

The i-Transport robotic vehicle lets the wheelchair-bound reach a standing position

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Constantly being talked down to is bad enough, but wheelchair users also have to deal with the problem of accessing items that are often located out of their reach. A research team from Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has developed the “i-Transport” robotic vehicle that is designed to get wheelchair users on their feet so they can carry out conversations eye to eye and grasp hard-to-reach items.

Developed by a team led by professors Fong-Chin Su and Tain-Song Chen from the NCKU Department of BioMedical Engineering (BME), the i-Transport lets users move around while seated, then lifts them upright to a standing position (or anything in between) when required. The user is supported by the seat, which shifts from a horizontal to an almost vertical position, a padded harness that sits against the user’s lower back, shin pads and handlebars at the front that the user can lean on.

The electric robotic vehicle is powered by a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chip containing a Nios II multi-core processor and can calculate whether the vehicle’s current load or configuration – be it sitting or standing –is unsafe for the user based on physiological parameters. The vehicle also features an embedded health monitoring system that tracks the user’s blood pressure and breathing.

“The invention is definitely a boon for the physically challenged people,” said a student who tried out the i-Transport at BME, adding that the device, which is designed to help the daily lives of the disabled, has become much lighter and more mobile.

Whether the vehicle actually makes it out of the NCKU lab to help the disabled remains to be seen, but its creators say it attracted a lot of attention when displayed at a recent forum hosted by Taiwan's Ministry of Education.

Source: NCKU via engadget

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
11 Comments

Not to be harsh but wouldn't a Segway with a support frame and hand controls be easier to maneuver.

Slowburn
28th December, 2012 @ 01:22 am PST

Wheelchair-bound? Sure, I am in a wheelchair now, but I had 19 years before my head injury. I am positive a few wheelchair users also had a walking life before assistance needs. This walking aid in the article is a great new walking aid tool (but frankly; I prefer comfort, safety, speed a wheelchair provides- that is another subject though).

I am just a little annoyed with that term "wheelchair-bound" - as if life and getting around ended.

Chris Jordan
28th December, 2012 @ 07:35 am PST

Perhaps this will be more economical than the many other powered sit-to-stand wheelchairs that are already available or have novel and useful features. Otherwise, it's an exercise in re-invention.

SMR
28th December, 2012 @ 08:58 am PST

The effects of a sedentary lifestyle (lots of sitting) are bad enough for the able-bodied. For those who have mobility challenges this can be a Godsend, especially if its design allows it to navigate the real world.

Bruce H. Anderson
28th December, 2012 @ 09:02 am PST

Almost a year ago, a Turkish company built and began selling a very similar device for disabled, paralysed people. It has the ability to help people get out of the bed, indeed.

Ali Tan Şerbetci
28th December, 2012 @ 10:00 am PST

Terminology: The last time I was Wheelchair Bound was when I was on the way to pick up a new one.

We are not bound nor tethered to our wheelchairs, they provide freedom of mobility.

Layne Nelson
28th December, 2012 @ 10:11 am PST

Yes, it seems a lot like the iBOT wheelchair by Johnson and Johnson developed years ago, see more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBOT

The only thing different here by these researchers seems to be that the chair takes the seated person to a full stretch body position which may work for some people with some disabilities (i.e., not all wheelchair users can or should go into a "standing" position). On the other hand there's a lot of exeskeleton research prototypes (smaller, cheaper, and more fun) elsewhere that hold the person with a spinal injury in a standing position for walking or whatever. Did these researchers miss all these others in their haste to "help the handicapped"?

Jenifer Simpson
28th December, 2012 @ 10:28 am PST

As someone who needs WC's occassionally and build my own something like this unit, which has been done many times before, is a good step up from the current ones available.

I'd think a large comfort bicycle style seat bottom with a back that keeps the same angle would work best

And no reason these can't go 15-20mph with 50 mile range to allow those who need them real independence without the hassle of loading, unloading into a car whenever one need to go over 1 mile.

Bigger batteries for the range actually cost less than the smaller ones!!

jerryd
28th December, 2012 @ 10:55 am PST

You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. There is no need to use harsh language towards the inventor or author.

I also use a wheelchair for mobility and safety reasons. When possible, I try to educate people re: preferred language. We use our wheelchairs but are not bound to them nor do we define ourselves as disabled people but as people with disabilities.

I appreciate the fact that people want to invent new and better ways for people with mobility limitations to get around. It is much healthier to spend at least part of your day upright.

FlFan
29th December, 2012 @ 05:35 pm PST

and the wheel is reinvented one more time...

edayangac
30th December, 2012 @ 05:36 am PST

I myself am a wheelchair user. I have seen this and other types of "standing" assist devices. One of my complaints with this is that it's still not capable of taking on curbs or stairs.

Exo-skeleton type aids would be seriously cool but we are still limited by the power source. (size/weight)

In the mean time I have toyed with this concept:

http://www.quirky.com/ideations/371342

Tracks go everywhere. Until we can make practical exo-skeleton devices we need to get away from wheels to get more mobility. Not everyone has pavement right outside their door, and there are those of us who want to get back into the woods or on the beach. Even the newer powerchairs can't handle a rough lawn.

Mivoyses
1st January, 2013 @ 05:22 am PST
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