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Wheelchairs

Researchers have developed and publicly tested a laser-guided feedback system which will h...

The introduction of the white cane early in the last century gave blind and visually-impaired users a mobility tool that not only helped them to get around, but also allowed them to be seen by others. Now researchers from Sweden's Luleå University of Technology – the same place that designed the autonomous wheelchair – have developed and publicly tested a system which could potentially give wheelchair-bound blind people a virtual white stick to help them detect and avoid obstacles. An electric wheelchair has been fitted with a navigational laser scanner which provides virtual 3D maps of the surroundings, and sends feedback about any obstructions to the user via a haptic interface.  Read More

Scientists are creating a brain-computer interface that will allow users to control device...

Practical thought-controlled devices, such as wheelchairs, artificial arms, or even cars, are perhaps a step closer to reality thanks to research being carried out at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Traditionally, brain-computer interfaces require the user to concentrate on constantly maintaining a mental command of either turn left, turn right, or no-command (go straight). According to EPFL, most users can’t sustain more than about an hour of the necessary mental effort. The school is developing a new system, however, that allows users to take breaks and shift their attention to other things while their thought-controlled device continues to operate on its own.  Read More

Electric wheelchair fitted with laser line striper and other terrain assistance devices. C...

Many of the greatest civilian innovations can be traced back to military origins. Penicillin, radar, satellites and the Internet, just to name a few. So it is not uncommon for technologies developed for fighting wars to be found to have wider applications. The following idea is an example of this adaptation and is inspired by the important need of disabled veteran soldiers for independence and mobility. By using terrain sensing control systems designed for the guidance of autonomous vehicles on the battlefield, researchers have begun developing a system that will allow wheelchair users to access more areas than ever before.  Read More

The ReWalk robotic exoskeleton is designed to get paraplegics out of their wheelchairs

The wheel may be one of mankind’s greatest inventions, but it’s an unfortunate fact of life for the wheelchair-bound that much of the modern world is built for the upright – from deli counter-tops and store shelves to stairs and escalators. When Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer was left paralyzed after a car accident in 1997 he set about creating “robotic trousers” to replace a wheelchair. The fruits of his labor are now set to help others with his ReWalk robotic exoskelton set to go on sale from the start of 2011.  Read More

Haidar Taleb and his solar-powered wheelchair

United Arab Emirates (UAE) inventor Haidar Taleb has today set out from Fujairah on a journey that will take him across all seven of the emirates that make up the UAE. The journey is expected to finish in Abu Dhabi in 11 days time on the UAE National Day, but its not the route or the timing that is attracting attention, it's the means of transport. Taleb won’t be making the trip by train, car or even camel – he’ll be riding a solar-powered wheelchair.  Read More

Berkeley Bionics' eLEGS exoskeleton

At a press conference held this morning in San Francisco, California’s Berkeley Bionics unveiled its eLEGS exoskeleton. The computer-controlled device is designed to be worn by paraplegics, providing the power and support to get them out of their wheelchairs, into a standing posture, and walking – albeit with the aid of crutches. The two formerly wheelchair-bound “test pilots” in attendance did indeed use eLEGS to walk across the stage, in a slow-but-steady gait similar to that of full-time crutch-users.  Read More

The Rowheel System

Traditional manually powered wheelchairs require the occupant to turn the chair’s rear wheels with a pushing action. This places a lot of stress on muscles that aren’t really designed to be used in this way, resulting in everything from repetitive stress injuries and muscle pain to torn rotor cuffs, joint degeneration and carpal tunnel syndrome. To combat this, Salim Nasser of Merritt Island, Florida, has taken a backward approach and developed the Rowheel System, which allows a pulling motion to translate into forward motion of a wheelchair. This transfers loads and stresses usually placed on weaker shoulder and arm muscles onto more capable muscles in the upper back, shoulders and arms to reduce the chance of injury and give the user an overall increase in endurance and range.  Read More

Test subject Bob Melia tries out the UCF robotic arm

Researchers have created a computer-controlled robotic arm designed to help wheelchair-bound people perform actions such as grasping and lifting objects. It has both an automatic mode, in which the computer identifies objects and figures out how to grasp them, and an option for full manual control. When physically-challenged people were selected to try the device out, the researchers were surprised to discover that most of them preferred going manual. It’s all about something called Flow.  Read More

Computer rendering of the HXC wheelchair

Quite a few people have heard of wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey, but perhaps not so many are familiar with Hardcore Sitting. That’s what wheelchair athlete Aaron Fotheringham calls his sport, which involves doing BMX/skateboarding-style stunts on a wheelchair at a skatepark. Los Angeles-based industrial designer Joven De La Vega was so inspired by Fotheringham, he decided to design a wheelchair tailored specifically to the sport. The working prototype – dubbed the HXC Wheelchair – can be compared to a freestyle BMX street bike.  Read More

The SX4 is one of the existing vehicles Suzuki has adapted to its new fuel cell technology

Suzuki’s carbon free mobility effort at the Tokyo Motor Show used three existing models to demonstrate the benefits of its growing hydrogen fuel cell expertise: the SX4 fuel cell car, a two-wheeler based on the existing Burgman 125 feet-forward enclosed scooter, and the fuel cell powered Mio Electric Wheelchair. Although Suzuki also showed a plug-in hybrid version of the Swift, another existing car being adapted to a future power train, the company is clearly staking a claim in the Fuel Cell technology arena. Check out the video to see what Suzuki has planned for our garages in the coming years.  Read More

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