Self-driving wheelchairs at Haneda Airport in Japan, tap the mobile app to be in front of you
Lei Feng Net Press: The self-driving vehicle family likes to add new things, but this time it is a relatively unpopular product-self-driving wheelchair.
This summer, two self-driving wheelchairs appeared at Singapore Hospital and Haneda Airport in Japan.
The former was co-created by the Singapore-MIT Technology Research Alliance (SMART). It emerged in Singapore’s Changi General Hospital in September last year. It can carry patients back and forth in the hospital lobby without the need of nurses. In recent years, SMART has done a lot of self-driving works. In addition to wheelchairs, it has also developed self-driving golf carts, electric taxis, and scooters.
Daniela Rus, head of the SMART Future Urban Mobility Team, said that the development of this self-driving wheelchair started in January last year. A total of 4 test wheelchairs have been produced, two of which are in Singapore and the other two are at MIT.
Don’t underestimate SMART’s wheelchair, it is equipped with 3 lidars, and the data used by the onboard computer is the map drawn by lidar. Subsequently, the positioning algorithm in the system will locate the position of the wheelchair on the map. In order to maintain balance, this wheelchair has a total of 6 wheels, it can not only turn sharply, but also compact, can easily pass through the ordinary door frame.
*SMART’s self-driving wheelchair
“After visiting several elderly communities, we deeply felt that the quality of life of the elderly will be closely related to whether you can easily travel. We made this product to let people with inconvenience and legs regain their physical freedom.” Rus Say.
The second self-driving wheelchair was only recently unveiled at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. It was produced by Panasonic and While. The latter had previously launched the Model A high-tech intelligent electric wheelchair, which can last up to 24 kilometers. Right now, the product is already on sale in Japan and the United States.
Panasonic plans to deploy five Model M self-driving wheelchairs at Haneda Airport this year for technical testing. Similar to the SMART self-driving wheelchair, the Model M also uses 2 lidars. At the same time, it also uses the related technology of Panasonic medical robot Hospi.
“The path setting of the self-driving wheelchair relies on the existing map information and wheelchair location information.” Panasonic spokesman Yamanaka said. Subsequently, the onboard computer will calculate the best path for wheelchairs. Users can choose a destination through a smartphone application, and they can even summon a self-driving wheelchair like Uber.
*All-terrain electric wheelchair Model A
Model M can be synchronized with the surrounding wheelchairs and travel in a row like a wild goose, which is very useful for passengers traveling in groups. After the passengers are delivered, these wheelchairs can automatically return to their seats, so that airport employees don’t have to look for wheelchairs scattered around a corner. Yamanaka said Panasonic plans to promote this wheelchair to large indoor facilities like shopping malls.
According to Lei Feng.com, in addition to hospitals and airports, SMART is also conceiving a networked autonomous driving travel system. Users can use a wheelchair or scooter to travel through the office. When they go out, they can directly change to a golf cart to the parking lot and then enter the autonomous vehicle. Go home (would people be lazy)
In addition, recent research has found that both self-driving scooters and wheelchairs perform quite well in a walking environment.
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Although self-driving wheelchairs are easy to use, there are still many challenges for large-scale commercial use. The sales of smart wheelchairs on the market are relatively miserable, and the expensive price is the main reason. For example, Dean Kamen’s iBot costs up to $25,000, no wonder no one is interested. Therefore, Rus hopes that the next generation of smart wheelchairs can have a significant improvement in cost performance.
“We are going to develop a set of enhancement kits that can be used directly in traditional wheelchairs. Of course, the price of this self-driving kit should be close to the people.” Rus said.
Of course, there is also a trick to promote self-driving wheelchairs in the United States, which is to allow their products to be certified by the FDA for medical devices, so that patients can get medical insurance reimbursement when they buy them, and they don’t have so many worries.