PITA Fiscal Year 2013 Projects

Copilot: An Active Wheelchair Driving Aid For Independent Living

Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: John Spletzer, Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering
PA Industry: Love Park Robotics, LLC

This project is submitted in parallel with a Phase II SBIR to the National Science Foundation with Love Park Robotics, LLC. This project proposes to develop and commercialize an active driving aid to enable semi-autonomous, cooperative navigation of an electric power wheelchair (EPW) both indoors and in dynamic, outdoor environments. The device is called CoPilot and is intended to be used by EPW users who suffer from deteriorating cognitive, perceptive, or motor function. CoPilot is an intelligent sensor and semi-autonomous drive control system that works in cooperation with the driver to aid in negotiating changing terrain, avoiding obstacles/collisions, and maintaining a straight path. The goal is to prolong independent living and safety for seniors in their homes. The basis for the innovation is that as an elder person begins to lose perceptive or motor function, CoPilot can augment that loss because it can interpret the user’s intent and it can see out into the environment on their behalf. This project will leverage the latest in 3D LIDAR technology for robust perception, exploit the team’s experience in successfully commercializing the smart wheelchair of the Automated Transport and Retrieval System (including acquiring FDA approval). Funding will be used for tuition and limited stipend support for one graduate student.