We've already seen robotic wheelchairs designed to navigate autonomously, but it looks like some researchers at Saitama University's Human-Robot Interaction Center are taking a slightly different approach with their latest project. They've developed a wheelchair equipped with a camera and a laser sensor that instead of tracking its surroundings, simply locks onto a nearby human companion and follows them around. It can even apparently anticipate the direction the person is going to go by using a distance sensor to check which way their shoulders are facing. Still no word on a commercial version, but the wheelchair is already being field-tested in care centers, where the researchers say it could be particularly useful if the facilities are short-staffed. Head on past the break to check it out in action.


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Japanese researchers develop robotic wheelchair that can follow humans