Evaluation of Semiautonomous Navigation Assistance System for Power Wheelchairs With Blindfolded Nondisabled IndividualsBy Sharma, Vinod; Simpson, Richard; LoPresti, Edmund; Schmeler, Mark; Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 47, No. 9, pp. 877-890
Publication Date: 2010
Study outlines the development of the Drive-Safe System (DSS), an add-on, distributed, shared-control navigation assistance system for power wheelchairs. The DSS is intended to provide safe and independent mobility to individuals with disabilities who lack the visual, motor, and/or cognitive skills required to safely operate a power wheelchair. The DSS is described as a human-machine system in which the user and machine share control of a power wheelchair. The user decides the speed and direction of travel with a joystick. If obstacles are present in the direction of travel, the DSS overrides user commands through autonomous collision avoidance, wall following, and door crossing and, if necessary, slows or stops the chair. The DSS was clinically evaluated in a controlled laboratory with 19 blindfolded, nondisabled participants with a mean age of 28.4 years, 6 of whom were female. Participants’ performance with the DSS was compared with standard cane use for navigation assistance by people with visual impairments. Results indicated that compared with a cane, the DSS significantly reduced the number of collisions. Users rated the DSS favorably even though they took longer to navigate the same obstacle course than they would have using a standard long cane. Participants also experienced less physical demand, effort, and frustration when using the DSS as compared with a cane. Study limitations and implications for further evaluation of the DSS with participants from a more diverse population are discussed.
VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Service (Web Site: http://www.rehab.research.va.gov )
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