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.

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:

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