Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a self-driving wheelchair currently undergoing testing on the MIT campus. The chair uses LIDAR scanners also used by MIT on full-sized cars, along with a mapping solution that generates a three-dimensional plot of the fixed points surrounding it. At the front of the chair is an obstacle-reading scanner, with a joystick used to program the path. Once programmed, the pathway appears as a color line on a tablet.
"The current research . . . is using it more as a platform, but there are people who are discussing doing research specifically on the chair," says MIT robotics software engineer Thomas Balch. "A lot of the research I've seen people doing . . . has been focused on helping people with disabilities deal with things more easily."
Balch says the system eventually could be used in hospitals to help transport patients.
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