Exploring New Directions in Personal Mobility
Currently, 1 in 5 people in the United States is living with a disability and in the coming years, the number of people with ambulatory disabilities is projected to increase dramatically. Toyota Motor North America seeks to provide quality of life improvements for people with disabilities. The Olin SCOPE team worked closely with power wheelchair users to begin to understand their varying priorities and needs. Many users highly value their personal autonomy, yet the wheelchairs themselves hinder the users’ ability to navigate. After investigating various sensing and control technologies, the team was able to expand the perception capabilities of the person operating the chair, and the user’s ability to navigate was greatly improved. Through collaborative design with users, the team developed a set of user priorities and technical principles for enhancing situational awareness for power wheelchair users.