A large number of power wheelchair users have very poor manual dexterity due to spinal cord injury, head injury, stroke, or degenerative diseases (such as MS and ALS). The simple task of loading in and out of an accessible vehicle can be time-consuming, and sometimes dangerous. Other tasks require an attendant to drive the wheelchair away, as in the shower, for example. The goal of the SmartChair is to provide wheelchair-dependent people more freedom and self-reliance while significantly improving safety and mobility.

The SmartChair platform is a control system which can easily be integrated onto any existing power wheelchair. The goal of the project is to give users with different levels of ability the added independence through improved control of their power wheelchair and computer-assisted autonomous movement.

A power wheelchair outfitted with the SmartChair control system will be able to automate certain tasks. These automations include following a pre-defined path, loading in and out of an accessible van, and navigating indoors in narrow hallways, doorways and tight corners.  

This technology will allow power wheelchair users to regain autonomy.

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