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Effort reduction and collision avoidance for powered wheelchairs: SCAD assistive mobility system

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

  • Martin Langner
The new research described in this dissertation created systems and methods to assist wheelchair users and provide them with new realistic and interesting driving opportunities. The work also created and applied novel effort reduction and collision avoidance systems and some new electronic interactive devices.

A Scanning Collision Avoidance Device (SCAD) was created that attached to standard powered wheelchairs to help prevent children from driving into things. Initially, mechanical bumpers were used but they made many wheelchairs unwieldy, so a novel system that rotated a single ultra-sonic transducer was created. The SCAD provided wheelchair guidance and assisted with steering. Optical side object detectors were included to cover blind spots and also assist with doorway navigation. A steering lockout mode was also included for training, which stopped the wheelchair from driving towards a detected object.

Some drivers did not have sufficient manual dexterity to operate a reverse control. A reverse turn manoeuvring mode was added that applied a sequential reverse and turn function, enabling a driver to escape from a confined situation by operating a single turn control.

A new generation of Proportional SCAD was created that operated with proportional control inputs rather than switches and new systems were created to reduce veer, including effort reduction systems. New variable switches were created that provided variable speed control in place of standard digital switches and all that research reduced the number of control actions required by a driver.

Finally, some new systems were created to motivate individuals to try new activities. These included a track guided train and an adventure playground that including new interactive systems.

The research was initially inspired by the needs of young people at Chailey Heritage, the novel systems provided new and more autonomous driving opportunities for many powered wheelchair users in less structured environments.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date2012

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