Researchers have developed a robotic, hands-free wheelchair

Researcher Adam Bleakney demonstrates the robotic, hands-free wheelchair. [Image courtesy of the University of Illinois]

Collaborators at the University of Illinois say they developed a robotic wheelchair that provides a novel mode of mobility to individuals with physical disabilities.

These researchers received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2020. With these funds, they aimed to develop that novel wheelchair. Today, two years in, the project produced a working prototype and a pending patent.

Their goal: penetrate the wheelchair market that hasn’t changed much since the first patent in the 1800s, according to the university website.

“Manual wheelchair users, due to this traditional design, have a lot of issues,” said Elizabeth T. Hsiao-Wecksler, professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. “It’s difficult to fit in tight spaces, [the …

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