It creates a map of the surrounding space, along with static and dynamic obstacles, using a laser sensor and displays it through a smartphone app. Accordingly, the user can then touch any point on the generated map, and the wheelchair will drive to that place automatically without user intervention.
In contrast to the imported self-driving wheelchairs which are quite expensive, the young inventors have managed to produce the prototype below Rs 1 lakh.
“The Self-E self-driving wheelchair is unique in the sense that it is the first self-driving wheelchair in India built by research lab of a university without any collaboration with foreign universities or companies”, said Dr. Rajesh Kannan Megalingam, Asst. Professor of Electronics and Communications and Director of Humanitarian Technology Lab at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, who was the brains behind the project. The three students who designed the Self-E wheelchair – Chinta Ravi Teja, Sarath Sreekanth and Akhil Raj – have been working for the last two years as junior researchers in the institution Lab.
Explaining the benefits of Self-E, student Chinta Ravi Teja said: “The self-driving wheelchair allows patients to be easily transported from one place to another anywhere at a hospital, airport or even a home”.
“If patients are able to operate a smartphone, they are relieved from the continuous use of traditional joystick to steer the wheelchair”, he said adding “with a simple touch on the map displayed on the mobile screen, the wheelchair takes them to the destination.”
The student said Self-E, in contrast, maps the surrounding environment, including dynamic and static obstacles such as people, walls, pillars, tables, chairs and others using a laser sensor. He said the user can have complete control over the wheelchair without anyone’s help.
On the other hand, if some patients have a problem in using a smartphone, a friend or family member or assistant can use the Android App to transport them without the need to physically push the wheelchair”.