Smart Wheelchairs and Autonomous Guided Vehicle

Smart wheelchairs
Autonomous Guided Vehicle

Decline in mobility is one of the challenges in the process of aging. The invention of wheelchair has been of great help, but it comes with limitations. Prof Ming Liu uses his expertise in autonomous systems and robotics to design ways to overcome these challenges.

Smart Wheelchair

Prof Liu, an expert in building auto-guided vehicles,  is currently working on two projects related to aging. He has designed an autonomous modern wheelchair that can go up and down the stairs. The wheelchair is equipped with robotic perception and navigation systems similar to autonomous vehicles, as well as Light Imaging Detection and Ranging sensors to help detect the rough terrain in the surrounding environment, ensuring the wheelchair won’t hit any obstacles or get stuck in a hole. Based on the adjacent environment, the wheelchair will transform and adjust its movement.  

Autonomous Guided Vehicle

The second project is in cooperation with Haven of Hope Christian Service. The elderly in healthcare centres have gatherings every morning and afternoon, taking up manpower resources since they must be wheeled there by the staff; constituting more than 60 roundtrips on each floor every day. The wheelchairs are mostly manual and it would be extremely costly to replace them with electric wheelchairs whilst the elderly may also be reluctant to let go of their old wheelchair with customized features made by family members or relatives. Prof Liu is thus building an autonomous guided vehicle in the form of platform that can act as a carrier for the wheelchair. This vehicle comes with built-in navigation systems which provides point to point transport service safely. The helper can simply stay at a certain location to push the wheelchair onto the carrier and the vehicle will deliver the wheelchair, easing the workload of frontline staff. In the future Prof Liu is also planning to design further customized versions of this autonomous guided vehicle for transportation of service or medical robots in hospitals.