PITA FY2014 Projects

Copilot: An Active Wheelchair Driving Aid For Independent Living (Phase 2)

PI:John Spletzer, Computer Science and Engineering

University:Lehigh University


Industry Affiliate(s):Love Park Robotics

Summary:This project supports a collaboration between Love Park Robotics (LPR), LLC and Prof. John Spletzer (Lehigh CSE). This project will 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. The project will leverage the latest in 3D imaging technology for robust perception, and the team’s experience in successfully commercializing the smart wheelchair of the Automated Transport and Retrieval System (including acquiring FDA approval). PITA funding will be used for tuition and limited stipend support for one graduate student. LPR will be providing $57,343 (cash) as matching.