Researchers: Rory A. Cooper, Brandon Daveler, Ben Gebrosky, Garrett Grindle, Andrea Sundaram, Hongwu Wang, and Jorge Candiotti
BoThe Mobility Enhancement Robotic Wheelchair (MEBot) will tackle both curbs and challenging terrains. The large center driving wheels can reposition themselves to simulate front-, mid-, or rear-wheel driving. The four smaller caster wheels are controlled with compressed air and move up and down freely and independently. For climbing curbs, the front caster wheels lift up onto the curb, then the driving wheels lift themselves up and forward onto the curb, which lifts the chair onto the curb. This is done automatically whenever MEBot senses a curb or step. The ultimate goal is for MEBot to climb a set of stairs. The same general function is used to operate on icy or slippery surfaces. A traditional power wheelchair can get stuck on this kind of terrain. MEBot, however, uses its front and rear caster wheels to inch forward on the slick surface by extending its front casters, moving the seat forward, bringing the rear casters forward, and then repeating the process. Meanwhile, the seat stabilization system keeps the driver safely upright.