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Robotic wheelchair concept adds leg-like movement, tackles stairs with ease (video)

Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg
October 15, 2012
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Why choose between legs and wheels when you can have both? Well, that's the theory behind a robotic wheelchair concept from the Chiba Institute of Technology, which uses leg-like motion to conquer obstacles a run-of-the-mill wheelchair can't. The key is the five axes its base rotates on, allowing individual wheels to be lifted off the ground and moved in a walking style. It can tackle steps and various other obstacles whilst remaining stable, and can even turn 360 degrees around its center with the help of some onboard stabilizers. A gang of sensors on the chair detect incoming obstructions and deal with them automatically, but changes in wheel torque can act as substitute triggers, should the sensors fail. Judging from the video below, it's pretty advanced for a concept, but its creator wants a bunch of people to try it out so he can "fine-tune the user experience." It may not be quite as cool as Stompy or the mighty Kuratas, but it's definitely more practical for a trip to the shops.

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