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Open AccessArticle

Ultrasonic Tethering to Enable Side-by-Side Following for Powered Wheelchairs

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
2
Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1H 8M5, Canada
3
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON K1H 8M2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2019, 19(1), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19010109
Received: 15 December 2018 / Revised: 27 December 2018 / Accepted: 29 December 2018 / Published: 30 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ultrasonic Sensors 2018)
In social situations, people who use a powered wheelchair must divide their attention between navigating the chair and conversing with people. These conversations could lead to increased mental stress when navigating and distraction from maneuvering the chair. As a solution that maintains a good conversation distance between the wheelchair and the accompanying person (Social Following), a wheelchair control system was developed to provide automated side-by-side following by wirelessly connecting the wheelchair to the person. Two ultrasonic range sensors and three piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers were used to identify the accompanying person and determine their position and heading. Identification involved an ultrasonic beacon worn on the person’s side, at hip level, and receivers on the wheelchair. A drive control algorithm maintained a constant conversation distance along the person’s trajectory. A plug-and-play prototype was developed and connected to a Permobil F5 Corpus wheelchair with a modified Eightfold Technologies SmartChair Remote. Results demonstrated that the system can navigate a wheelchair based on the accompanying person’s trajectory, which is advantageous for users who require hands-free wheelchair control during social activities. View Full-Text
Keywords: powered wheelchair; smart wheelchair; assistive technology; assistive navigation; human-following; social-following; ultrasonic triangulation; tethering powered wheelchair; smart wheelchair; assistive technology; assistive navigation; human-following; social-following; ultrasonic triangulation; tethering
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Pingali, T.R.; Lemaire, E.D.; Baddour, N. Ultrasonic Tethering to Enable Side-by-Side Following for Powered Wheelchairs. Sensors 2019, 19, 109.

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