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Intelligent Wheelchairs Will Navigate on Their Own

By Asian News International

January 4, 2010

A smart wheelchair developed at Lehigh University will be different from previous intelligent models in that the technology will cross-reference the maps it makes of its surroundings, using a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system and other sensors, with three-dimensional (3D) maps loaded into its memory. The Lehigh team is developing the 3D maps. The smart wheelchair will be able to detect and avoid stationary objects such as trees, poles, parking meters, and corners. The Lehigh team also plans to develop software that will enable the chair to predict the location of moving obstacles such as pedestrians and cars, and avoid them. Lehigh professor John Spletzer says the team wants to take wheelchair autonomy to another level. "It will not be limited to structured indoor environments," he says. "Instead, it investigates the much more difficult problem of autonomous operations in unstructured environments outdoors."

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