PITA Fiscal Year 2010 Projects - Information And Systems Technology

A Smart Wheelchair System For Personal Automobility

Principal Investigators: John Spletzer

This project will provide follow-on funding to a National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase 1 SBIR awarded to Freedom Sciences, LLC in 2009, with a subcontract to Lehigh University. We are requesting 1 year of stipend support for a graduate student to continue this effort. The work conducted under this project will support a Phase 2 SBIR proposal submission to NSF by Freedom Sciences and Lehigh, as well as a joint industry/academia proposal to the NSF Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities (RAPD) program in Sep 2010.

The world we live in was not designed for those in wheelchairs. Going about basic activities of daily living with independence, freedom, and dignity is often a challenge for people whose mobility has been compromised by age, injury, or disease. Similarly, the primary caregiver of mobility impaired persons are faced with a tremendous physical and emotional burden when caring for their loved ones or patients. This proposal is a collaboration between Freedom Sciences, LLC (FS) and Lehigh University to develop and commercialize technology that will enhance the quality of life of the disabled and elderly - and in turn their caregivers - by significantly increasing their mobility. Specifically, we propose to commercialize a smart wheelchair system capable of autonomous navigation outdoors, and under “real-world” environmental conditions. While we expect this technology to have a range of applications in the assisted care space, it will initially be integrated into the Automated Transport and Retrieval System (ATRS). Lehigh's role in this effort will be to lead the development in three areas: auto-tuning of motor controllers, motion controller algorithm development, and LIDAR-based wheelchair localization.