Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Robotic wheelchairs could help patients at hospitals

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) on Wednesday unveiled a robotic wheelchair to carry elderly or disabled patients around hospitals without the help of staff.

The wheelchair was designed by doctoral student Jen Cheng-lung (任正隆) and four other graduate students at the Department of Electrical and Control Engineering.

Patients can ride the wheelchair, which is equipped with a wireless positioning system, Jen said at a university exhibit.

With a single click — choosing a destination on the wheelchair’s monitor — a patient can tell it where to go, he said.

After their appointment, they can call for the wheelchair to pick them up by PDA cellphone.

The wheelchair will then take them to the hospital entrance, Jen said.

When not in use, the wheelchair finds a place to park out of the way of staff and patients by using a camera installed on the back.

Jen said inspiration for the device came from his adviser Wu Ping-fei’s (吳炳飛) personal experiences, as Wu is partially paralyzed.

Jen said museums and malls could also use the wheelchairs one day.

“The wheelchair is tailor-made for the elderly and those with physical disabilities,” Wu said.

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