computer/speech controlled wheelchairs
- a power wheelchair is driven under complete computer control
- the wheelchair driver interacts with the computer using speech
- A special case of the client/server architecture: the client
and server programs normally run on the same computer, which is mounted
on the wheelchair.
Quickie F11 ("Freestyle") wheelchair
- Joe's current power wheelchair
- controlled by the CAPPUCCINO computer
- computer controls driving and actuators (tilt, reclining, leg extension)
Quickie G424 wheelchair
- Joe's backup power wheelchair; used when the freestyle is being serviced/modified/repaired
- controlled by the VAIO computer
- computer controls driving and seat tilt
- the user interacts with the Java client computer program using speech
- the Java program controls a LabJack U12 data acquisition and generation device
- the LabJack U12 interfaces with an Omni, a vendor-provided universal input device for Quickie power wheelchairs
- modularity-any method that the user can employ to communicate with a computer program can be used to drive the wheelchair
- flexibility-the program can be written to respond to a completely arbitrary set of low-level or high-level driving instructions.
- rapid travel over a variety of outdoor terrains and conditions.
- The program can incorporate capabilities in addition to those provided with the wheelchair-for example, cruise control of speed or precise Gyro controlled turning.
- Other sensors can be added and integrated into the wheelchair driving (for example, proximity sensors for collision avoidance or track followering for indoor navigation)
- the computer is available for other speech controlled applications: for example, add a broadband modem and data plan and you have an Internet browser/cell phone.
For INDOOR driving, the disadvantages are relatively minor:
- switching between talking to people and driving the wheelchair can be inconvenient.
- controlling computers by voice is very difficult while eating or if one has a cold/sore throat
OUTDOOR driving can be dangerous:
- There are COMPUTER PROBLEMS:
- The computer can hang up or reboot itself
- The wheelchair driving program can lose focus unexpectedly (for example, unsolicited messages from the operating system or the Internet)
- There are SPEECH CONTROL problems:
- the dictation system can misrecognize commands, a problem which is especially difficult in the presence of wind or very loud ambient noise
- user errors (similar to driving a car):
- driver may inadvertently give the wrong instruction
- not paying attention to one's driving
- driving faster than the conditions warrant
Safety can be improved by various techniques(an ongoing process):
- safety constraints have been programmed into the wheelchair responses to user instructions
- microphone and shielding characteristics have been chosen to minimize response to wind and to ambient noises
- (most importantly), I have a "kill" button which will immediately stop the wheelchair motion
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