• The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

Self-driving wheelchairs?

  • Julia
  • News

We have all heard about self-driving cars – but what about self-driving wheelchairs?

Researchers of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are currently working on a new self-driving wheelchair for increased independence and mobility. Currently, the research team is testing the wheelchair on campus in a real-world setting, where students wander by in groups, deep in conversation or face down in their smartphones.

Wheelchair users were, however, not who the researchers initially had in mind when starting the development. In fact, the initial reason for developing the chair was to test a technology that is hard to test using autonomous cars in the busy streets of Boston – for obvious reasons. The chair features the same Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors that MIT is using on their full-sized cars. The wheelchair thus provided an opportunity to test ideas on a smaller scale, involving significantly less risk. The fact that the wheelchair could have real world benefits for people with reduced mobility is thus considered “a happy coincidence”.

But the self-driving wheelchair has also sparked interest in the research community, with researchers planning to conduct research specifically on the chair. Results of early studies, such as the testing conducted at Changi General Hospital, Singapore in September 2016 are promising but there is still much work to be done before the self-driving wheelchair will be cruising unsupervised without any kind of human pilot.

Personally, I find the thought of autonomous cars quite scary. I’m very uncomfortable with the loss of control, especially because I believe that certain traffic situations will always require human judgment. Somehow I feel similarly about autonomous wheelchairs, especially for outdoor use, but I can see them working very well in someone’s home or a hospital setting for example. But maybe I’m too cautious? What do you think about a self-driving wheelchair?

Sources :

Comments (0)

There are no comments on this topic yet.
Be the first to comment!

Rate this post

Most Recent Answers
5282 odyssita
Explaining what life with a chronic disability is like
Hi cAro, all the best for your research! I am very curious to hear about the results once they are being published. Thank you for researching this...
6 odyssita 2018-05-02
5197 Wheelie
Good news for all who would like to try out the Scewo by themselves: according the Scewo constructors, the feedback on their invention was so...
5 Johannes 2018-03-12
Ask the Expert
Most Recent Answers
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-07-20
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-05-07

Most Recent Blog Posts
Wheelchair chefs: the success stories
Disabilities matter but ambition rules
lorenzo.deluigi 2020-07-22 In News
Make to Care, a competition promoting innovations
Which one of these four innovative projects convinces you the most?
kitwan 2020-07-02 In Society
Wheelchair users’ game of thorns
The fight for personal space, safety and independence
Most Read
Anatomy and physiology of respiration
Breathing is the most normal thing in the world for us. We hardly think about it, even though we breathe in and out about 20,000 times per day. We breathe more when we are active and exerting ourselves, and we breathe less when we are...
Social skills increase quality of life
Today strawberry yogurt is on Anna’s* grocery list. In front of the dairy section she notices that she cannot reach the yogurt sitting in a wheelchair. Many stressed people are rushing through the crowded store during rush hour and she does not...
Mobilisation / Transferring
What do I need to consider with regard to the shoulders? The shoulder is the most heavily-strained joint with regard to mobilisation – that applies to sitting up and transferring. It is therefore important to protect the shoulders whenever it is...

About the Community
Most Recent Topics
2020-08-04 In Latest
An unconventional book on ignoring disability
"A picture is worth a thousand words." How about blank pages? Recently, a blank book has been released to express the absurdity people with disabilities are experiencing every day, as there is...
2020-07-16 In Latest
Free masks for high-risk patients with SCI
People with high-level tetraplegia, paraplegics of higher age and those with pre-existing health conditions are more susceptible to a severe development of COVID-19. For this reason, the European...
2020-07-03 In Latest
A COVID inspiration porn?
Over three months since the COVID-19 declared pandemic, many countries are still debating whether to make wearing face masks compulsory to help prevent the spread of the disease. Noam Gershony, an...


Swiss Paraplegic Research
Guido A. Zäch Strasse 4
6207 Nottwil

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T 0800 727 236 (from Switzerland, free of charge)
T +41 41 939 65 55 (from other countries, charges apply)

Be part of the Community – sign up now!