GeckoSystems Presents the SafePath Wheelchair
GeckoSystems has successfully migrated some of its mobile robot solutions to power wheelchairs to create SafePath collision free navigation. SafePath is sensor fusion under AI control, the only truly autonomous and commercially viable navigation solution in the market. The company hopes that the SafePath wheelchair will be the first use of this software in the retail market.
According to 2010 United States Census figures1 there are 3.3 million wheelchair users age 15 or over. Power assisted wheelchairs give the disabled the greatest possible freedom of movement, but 40% find it almost impossible to steer using controls now on the market.2 Visual and cognitive issues also prevent some disabled persons from using power wheelchairs. A wheelchair with GeckoSystems' SafePath artificial intelligence (AI) software technologies will give these people safety, mobility and access that was previously denied.
We have included a link to a Technical Discussion of wheelchair software and hardware architecture for those interested in how our proprietary software enables the SafePath Wheelchair.
See a Fully Functional Prototype of the SafePath Wheelchair in Action.
First you will see the wheelchair user safely navigating cluttered aisles and avoiding collisions with other shoppers in a grocery store environment. The Microsoft's Kinect technology reports distances to obstacles at up to 10-12 feet.
Additional videos show the upgraded wheelchair in a mall environment, demonstrating SafePath capabilities both with and without an operator. Notice that the chair does not simply bounce away from an obstacle in an arbitrary manner, it resumes the course designated by the operator once the obstacle is avoided. The chair responds to the commands of the user but when GeckoNav becomes aware of an obstacle, that AI engine directs the chair away from the obstacle, and resumes seeking its previous destination.
Finally, there are several videos showing an unmanned chair in both environments. With no direction at all the AI enabled chair seeks and finds a clear, safe path. The maximum speed of a chair guided by GeckoNav is adjusted to that of a brisk walking speed. In a loose crowd situation where there are multiple obstacles the chair automatically slows depending on the proximity of the obstacles, calculates the safest path and speed while proceeding.
It is the integration of this proprietary software under GeckoSuper that makes GeckoSystems' navigational system superior to competitors' systems. The company anticipates that these recent advances will open a wide range of new business oppotunities for the company.
2 Fehr L, Langbein WE, Skaar SB. Adequacy of power wheelchair control interfaces for persons with severe disabilities: A clinical survey. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2000;37(3): 353-60. [PMID: 10917267]
3 Situational awareness is sufficient understanding of one's environment to be able to make common sense decisions that can be executed.
4 Loose crowds are groups of people that are far enough apart that one may pass by them without infringing any individual's personal space. The loose crowd of groups and/or individuals may be stationary, moving, or both.