Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/31/rodem_hi_tech_wheelchair/

Japan gives the wheelchair a hi-tech overhaul

GPS and obstacle-avoidance on board

By James Sherwood

Posted in Hardware, 31st August 2009 09:02 GMT

A Japanese firm has developed a hi-tech wheelchair that's able to avoid obstacles and find its way around - while being more comfortable for the passenger.

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Rodem: a sort of high-tech wheelchair getting around on
Pictures: TechOn

Rodem – roughly translated as Robot for Enjoying Mobility, TechOn reports - is a universal vehicle designed to help people move more freely and with greater independence, according to developer Veda International Robot R&D centre.

Designed in response to the world’s growing number of elderly people, riders mount Rodem from behind (sic) and lean against padded knee and chest rests which, Veda said, makes for a more comfortable ride, especially for folk who spend a lot of time sitting in it. It's also easier for carers to help the passenger in and out of the hi-tech chair than ordinary wheelchairs.

Measuring 1220 x 690 x 1170mm, Rodem can move at three different maximum speeds: 6km/h, 3.5km/h or 1km/h. Reverse movement is always limited to no more than 3kmh.

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On-board GPS helps you find your way

A sealed lead-acid battery powers the leccy wheelchair and disabled – or just plain lazy – users will get about four hours' travel time before a recharge is required.

A joystick controls Rodem’s two-wheel drive system, but the chair can also be controlled by voice commands from the driver.

Rodem’s other tech travel treats include automatic controls for driving up slopes, on-board GPS and autonomous navigation. The chair’s also able to prevent you from accidentally driving into walls or small children.

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Rodem could be on the market next year

Veda is still on the lookout for business partners willing to help it mass-produce Rodem, which the firm hopes to have on the market within 12 months for between ¥500,000 and ¥700,000 (£3274-4500/$5330-7400/€3713-5100). ®