CES 2020: Panasonic shows off the Self Driving Wheelchair of the Future
MXTreality is at CES 2020 this week in Las Vegas! We’ve been checking out all the coolest immersive tech on the horizon related to VR and AR such as the well known Varjo VR headset and an impressive AR headset built by a company called Huanyi Times that has a significant field of view.
We’ve also been on the lookout for tech that is built for accessibility integration due to our work with increasing mobility and accessibility for people that can benefit from mobility accessibility and developing for other accessibility needs. While many of the gadgets here at CES have potential for increasing accessibility integration for concepts like future homes, a particular showcase really jumped out at us because of a platform we’re developing utilizing virtual reality that helps individuals learn how to operate and drive wheelchairs; the Panasonic booth had on display a self driving wheelchair!
The company who created the Model Ci wheelchair is called WHILL. The wheelchair itself contains self driving software and sensors to recognize objects that were developed by Panasonic to integrate with WHILL’s chair.
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From seeing the chair in action it is clear that it can effectively navigate its way around, at least on flat ground, yet the WHILL specs describe the ability for “Outdoor Adventures” and says the user can “travel unhindered over rough terrain with 2.25 inch ground clearance”. Aside from packing up the chair full of Clif bars to traverse switchback filled hiking endeavors, the chair seems to be able to take users where they’ll need to go.
The specs include that the chair can do tight turns and has “Super Stability & Durability” with a 10 Mile Range at up to 5 MPH.
From the Specs Page of the WHILL Website
Since we are developing solutions related to training for increased mobility, the Model Ci is incredibly intriguing. There is a huge learning curve for a person to operate modern wheelchairs, and the difficulty level grows the less mobility a person has. As more of these type of
assistive care devices advance, the opportunity for seamless integration into the lives of those who could benefit most will increase. Indeed, all will stand to enjoy the perks from some iteration of advancing tech features from gadgets and mobility, yet it's exciting when first seeing some of these things utilized by people who can really benefit from using them to make dramatic improvements in their daily lives.