Thy Wish Is My Command says the Voice-Controlled Robot Wheelchair

Ever heard of your chair knowing your mind, following your brainpower? The researchers at MIT are designing a wheelchair that responds to verbal commands. This user-friendly system can learn all about the locations in a given building, and then take its occupant to a given place in response to a vocal order. Just by saying “take me to the cafeteria” or “go to my room,” the wheelchair user would be able to avoid the need for controlling every twist and turn of the route and could simply sit back and relax as the chair moves from one place to another based on a map stored in its memory.
Unlike other attempts to program wheelchairs or other mobile devices, which rely on an intensive process of manually capturing a detailed map of a building, the MIT system can learn about its environment in much the same way as a person would: By being taken around once on a guided tour, with important places identified along the way. Outdoors in the open, such systems can rely on GPS receivers to figure out where they are, but inside buildings the wheelchair prototype relies on a WiFi system to make its maps and then navigate through them, which requires setting up a network of WiFi nodes around the facility in advance.

The research which has been funded by Nokia and Microsoft will especially be a boom to the patients who have partial or substantial loss of muscle control. As the research progresses, Nicholas Roy, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics and the one behind the machine, says he’d like to add a collision-avoidance system using detectors to prevent the chair from bumping into other wheelchairs, walls or other obstacles besides including a wide number of other applications, such as automated forklifts that can learn where to take a crate and repeat that process.
So, this one is sure to take you places!!
Via MIT / BoingBoing


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