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Sunday, September 28, 2008

MIT's Autonomous Wheelchair

MIT researchers are creating an autonomous wheelchair that can learn the locations in a given building, and take its occupant to any given place in reaction to a verbal command. "It's a system that can learn and adapt to the user," says Nicholas Roy, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics and co-developer of the wheelchair. "People have different preferences and different ways of referring" to places or objects, says Roy, the aim is to personalize each wheelchair to its user and the user's environment. The wheelchair requires a first time guided tour to learn about it's environment, with the user providing verbal clues as to where it currently is. For instance, as the wheelchair is pushed around for the first time, the patient or a caregiver would say: "this is my room" or "here we are in the foyer" or "nurse's station." MIT News has the complete story here.