Self-Driving Car Tech Can Help Another Form of Transport: Wheelchairs

Autonomous vehicle technology frequently prompts discussions about profit, security, efficacy, tasks, and much more. But this invention can change millions of lives now without introducing a car. Think: self-driving wheelchairs.



Elizabeth Jameson (@jamesonfineart) is a health policy analyst and an artist from the San Francisco Bay Area who utilizes neurotechnology, art and science to shift the narrative of chronic illness. Catherine Monahon is an art educator and project director who works with nonprofits, small companies, and individuals to tell their stories.

I’ve a disease, multiple sclerosis, which has now rendered me quadriplegic; I have use of my legs or hands. I’m a part of a growing group of people with mobility challenges. With an aging population, an increase in chronic illnesses worldwide, and longer lifespans, the number of people over age 65 is predicted to almost double in the next 30 years, to 88 million by 2050. This problem will affect us all, since handicap rates rise with age.

People with mobility challenges dream of freedom. Assistive technologies is crucial for our liberty, for helping us succeed in the workplace, live purposeful lives, and undergo everyday tasks that would otherwise be impossible. Self-driving wheelchairs would provide completely new levels of independence for people living with disability. What's more, this technology is even affordable and exists. The obstacle is a lack of investment from the tech community.

Silicon Valley sees itself as technologies that improves lives. It’s famed for invention and firsts. Wheelchairs represent an excellent chance for tech companies and venture capitalists to invest in a growing industry while transforming the lives of millions.

Users of power wheelchairs will be the principal customers. In the US alone, 6 million people like me require a power wheelchair, and many of us require assistance to run it, as I do, because I can’t use my hands. Wheelchairs utilizes a power chair. Unlike a manual wheelchair, the power wheelchair has a engine that allows the person to move about without physically the wheels.

A solution that is much better is desperately needed by an estimated 8 million people. There’s a wide and varied marketplace for self-driving wheelchair users, from children or people in nursing homes frequently denied power chairs due to security regulations, to people who can't run power chairs for various reasons, such as problem with sensory or fine motor abilities.

Even people who are able to operate their apparatus report it can sometimes be stressful and fatiguing–navigating through crowds and tight spaces, determining the best path, and utilizing the right amount of accuracy (via neck muscles, finger, or breath) to control the chair.

Where car technology comes to the rescue, here & rsquo; s. A couple of institutions and companies — Samsung, MIT, and Northwestern University, to name a couple–are pursuing wheelchairs that are self-driving. Of all the prototypes, there’s one alternative that’s cost-effective and prepared for execution: a wheelchair made with a Toronto-based robotics firm called Cyberworks.

Cyberworks announced a self-driving wheelchair that’s predicted to hit the marketplace within the next few years, at a cost of $ 1,000 last summer. For contrast, an electric wheelchair can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $30,000, depending on the level of handicap. This is the first step, while far Cyberworks & rsquo; wheelchair can be used inside.

Wheelchairs can be a stable marketplace. Companies that enable mobility-impaired consumers with technology may demonstrate that these kinds of systems are safe and reliable.

For those of us with mobility difficulties, there is a wheelchair our vehicle. It’s crucial to our mobility, although it might travel slower, utilizing pathways other than the street that is open. The tech market has the chance to become an absolute hero for millions of men and women in the coming years, particularly as the world’s population ages. Investing in technologies means investing in our success: access and handicap is everybody’s difficulty.

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