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ATRS to make entering / exiting vehicles easier for handicapped individuals

Darren Murph
12.13.06
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While there's certainly smart enough wheelchairs to get you around town without mauling a lamppost or taking out a crowd of bystanders, a Pennsylvania-based team has developed a system to get wheelchair-bound individuals in and out of their cars a lot easier. Engineers at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon have partnered with robotic startup Freedom Sciences LLC and Freedom Lift Corporation to unveil the Automatic Transport and Retrieval System, which will supposedly "enable wheelchair users to drive while sitting in standard automobile seats that meet federal safety regulations." Currently, motorists are forced to use cumbersome, bolt-in attachments that typically require heavy modifications to the car in order to operate; the ATRS system, however, uses remote controls, wireless technologies, and "lasers" to assist drivers into a standard seat, roll their wheelchair "autonomously" to the loading dock, and close up the rear door, all while parked in the driver's seat. Sensational as it may sound, the system doesn't come cheap (nor with a wheelchair), and will cost handicapped individuals (or insurance companies) between "$15,000 and $20,000" when it goes on sale next spring.

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