Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Wheelchairs

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

Panasonic has developed the Robotic Bed, a robot-shaped bed which transforms into a wheelc...

Panasonic has developed a robotic bed which easily transforms to a wheelchair - and back again - without the user needing to move. The Robotic Bed eliminates the need for those with limited mobility to transfer between bed and wheelchair, reducing the need for assistance and helping them retain their independence and mobility.  Read More

The Toyota/RIKEN wheelchair - this laboratory prototype runs with the EEG detector run by ...

Toyota and Japanese research foundation RIKEN have teamed up to create a revolutionary wheelchair steered by mind control. This remarkable development is one of the first practical uses of EEG (Electro-encephalogram) signals. Designed for people with severe disabilities, the Toyota/RIKEN wheelchair is fitted with an EEG detector in the form of a electrode array skull cap, a cheek puff detector and a display that assists with control. To turn left, right and move forward, the driver simply thinks about the movement and the wheelchair instantly and seamlessly responds. To stop the wheelchair, the driver puffs his/her cheek. A detector on the face picks up the signal and immediately stops the wheelchair. This form of braking is necessary for safety reasons as a puff detector is more reliable than the EEG reader.  Read More

Gain the height advantage in business dealings with the Chariot

Wheelchairs serve the important function of giving those who have difficulty walking their independence. They’re a tried and true technology whose design has remained largely unchanged for many years due to the effectiveness and simplicity of the design. For all their usefulness though wheelchairs do have a number of drawbacks - they force the users into a seated position, making interacting with a world designed for upright people frustrating as well as not being able to interact with those standing at their level. A new concept vehicle from Exmovere Holdings called the Chariot makes these problems a thing of the past by letting amputees and others who have difficulty standing move around in an upright position.  Read More

The Brain-Computer Interface allows control a robotic arm

Researchers at the University of South Florida have designed a system that uses an Electroencephalograph (EEG) to read the brain waves of wheelchair-bound people and allows them to control a robotic arm with their thoughts. The Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) captures P300 brain wave responses, the consistently detectable brain waves associated with decision making, and transmits instructions to the robo-arm “without the user moving a muscle.”  Read More

Marcus Cunnington and his ultra-light creations

May 13, 2008 Drawing on a background that ranges from experience as an aerospace technician to a stint in research and development on the Williams F1 team, Marcus Cunnington has designed and built the 6.3kg (around 13.9 pounds) Free Spirit - a carbon fiber composite design that claims the mantle of the world's lightest manual rigid wheelchair.  Read More

Magic Wheelchair: More mileage, less effort

August 10, 2007 Even with years of practice the wear and tear on the body from utilizing a manual wheelchair is immense. Users experience ongoing pain (and in some cases long-term injury) in the arms and shoulders as a result of being reliant on manual force to propel the chair’s weight in addition to their own body weight. One company has sought to alleviate some of this pain by releasing new and innovative technology which is bringing wheelchairs up to speed.  Read More

The autonomous wheelchair raises the promise of assistive mobile robots

December 17, 2006 There are few areas in which technology can make such a great difference as in mobility assistance for the disabled and aged market. We’ve already written about Kanagawa Institute of Technology’s Power Assist Suit, Independence Technology’s iBot, and a mind-controlled wheelchair, but the announcement this week that researchers in Sweden have developed a wheelchair that can be driven manually, by remote controlled or fully autonomously suggests that devices enabling the most severely handicapped people to achieve independent mobility are inevitable .  Read More

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