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Japanese Robotic Wheelchair Automatically Follows You Around

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screenshot of robotic wheelchair
Strolling around with your wheelchair-bound loved ones might one day be a whole lot less stressful, thanks to a new robotic wheelchair created in Japan. Designed by researchers at Saitama University's Human-Robot Interaction Center, the wheelchair uses distance sensors and built-in cameras to keep track of a pedestrian's position, allowing the chair to remain on the left-hand side of its targeted companion at all times. As Crunch Gear elaborates, the sensor system is also designed to pick up on the movements of a companion's shoulders, which enables the chair to predict the direction in which the walker might move.

In the event that a person leads the wheelchair down a narrow hallway, or through similarly treacherous terrain, the sensors will detect any obstacles and navigate the chair accordingly. If, for example, other people are walking toward the couple in a tight space, the chair will automatically follow its companion in single-file. And, because several robo-chairs are capable of following the same person, Saitama's researchers are hopeful that their brainchild will allow elderly care workers to more efficiently move their patients, and to interact with them more fluidly while doing so. To see the chair in action, check out the video after the break. [From: CrunchGear, via: PopSci]

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