Robo-Wheelchair Can Go Up Stairs [Video]

This prototype from the Chiba Institute of Technology has 4-wheel drive and uses its wheels as legs to get up steps and overcome obstacles.

Emma Hutchings
Emma Hutchings on October 16, 2012.

Scientists from the Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan have developed a robotic wheelchair that can go up steps and traverse a variety of obstacles. DigInfo reports that it rolls along on its wheels as normal, controlled using a joystick, and automatically assesses the surrounding terrain. When it senses a step, ramp, or ditch, it uses its wheels as legs to overcome the uneven ground, adjusting the seat to keep it level.

The four-wheel drive robot uses various sensors in combination to reliably detect the road surface. It can also extend stabilizers to both sides to turn in a circle, making it easy to reverse in narrow spaces. The scientists are at the stage where they can show the robo-wheelchair to the world, and will now be getting lots of people to try it out so they can “fine-tune the user experience.” Take a look at the robot in action in the video below:

Chiba Institute of Technology