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Teaching robot helps children to use wheelchair

Date:
August 13, 2010
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
A robotic wheelchair is being developed that will help children learn to 'drive'. In a new article, researchers describe the testing of ROLY -- robot-assisted learning for young drivers -- in a group of children without disabilities and one child with cerebral palsy.

Robotic wheelchair in use.
Credit: Image courtesy of BioMed Central / Marchal-Crespo et al., Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 2010

A robotic wheelchair is being developed that will help children learn to 'drive'. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation describe the testing of ROLY -- RObot-assisted Learning for Young drivers -- in a group of children without disabilities and one child with cerebral palsy.

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Laura Marchal-Crespo, worked with a team of researchers at the University of California at Irvine, USA, to carry out the study. She said, "The conventional approach for powered wheelchair driver's training is expensive and labor-intense, typically requiring the hand-over-hand assistance of a skilled therapist. To lower the cost and improve accessibility to training, we have developed a robotic powered wheelchair system on which young children with a disability can safely develop driving skills at their own pace with minimum assistance."

The researcher's technique involves the trainee learning to chase a small robot along a line painted on the floor. The force feedback joystick used to steer the wheelchair can also give physical assistance to the driver, at a level appropriate to their ongoing performance. When caught, the robot performs a dance and the chair plays a little tune. The joystick haptic assistance was found to enhance learning in both the non-disabled children trained with haptic guidance and in the child with a severe motor impairment.

Speaking about the results, Marchal-Crespo said, "Ultimately, we envision creating a training experience that compares favorably with the fun children experience with the best amusement park rides, but that facilitates the development of driving skill."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laura Marchal-Crespo, Jan Furumasu and David J Reinkensmeyer. A robotic wheelchair trainer: design overview and a feasibility study. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 2010; [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Teaching robot helps children to use wheelchair." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812192059.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2010, August 13). Teaching robot helps children to use wheelchair. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812192059.htm
BioMed Central. "Teaching robot helps children to use wheelchair." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812192059.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

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