Posted by: robotnews | March 14, 2006

Expand your horizons with the iBOT Mobility System

U0308345 Ng Sing Joo

Assistive technology (AT), the field of innovations that removes barriers or bypasses impediments for people with disabilities, can be applied to assist people in accomplish daily tasks around the home or in a vocational setting. The revolutionary iBOT Mobility System which has a combination of features unlike any wheelchair ever created, is one excellent example of this assistive technology. The iBOT can easily power across sand, gravel or uneven terrain, climb stairs and curbs, rise to an “eye-level” position and hold a conversion, even when you are on the move.

The core of the iBot Mobility system is the patented iBalance Technology which is an integrated combination of sensor and software components and multiple computers that work in conjunction with gyroscopes. Gyroscopes are motion sensors that help maintain balance. When the gyroscopes sense movement, a signal is sent to the computers which in turn will then process the information and tell the motors how to move the wheels to maintain stability. The iBOT Mobility System constantly realigns and adjusts its wheel position and seat orientation to keep the user upright and stable at all times, even when driving up and down curbs or inclines. In addition, the iBOT® includes built-in triple redundant backup systems, as well as auditory and visual signals to provide even more safety and assurance.
While most conventional motorized wheelchairs can only travel on even surfaces, the iBOT® Mobility System powerful 4-Wheel Function allow travelling even on uneven terrain, such as grass, sand, or gravel, as well as climb curbs up to 5 inches high. This allows the user to be self independent when travelling from point to point without needing help from others.

Most conventional wheelchairs are not able to tackle stairs and thus, users find it difficult to enter buildings that do not have a ramp which is purposely built to faciliate wheelchair bound persons. However, iBOT tackles stairs easily through utilizing gyroscopes and adjusts to the driver’s center of gravity, rotating wheels up and over each other through the perfect coordinated commands of the computers inside it.

Peolple in wheel chair has to constantly strain their necks when talking to people in order to maintain eye contact due to different levels in height. They also face the problems of not being able to reach for objects that are place high onto the cupboards or shelfs. The iBOT Mobility system solves all these inconvenieces easily. The Balance Function of the iBOT can raise the user to eye level for any number of business or social interactions, even when on the move. It lets the user see over counters, and reach a high shelf in the office, kitchen or supermarket, safely and easily.
My opinion is that at the moment, this type of wheelchair would be extremely expensive and may not be affordable to the majority. However, there is still a possibilty that the through mass-produce, the product price will fall to relatively affordable levels. Thus, there are still some major issues to solve, such as costs and reliability, before these robotic wheelchairs become widely available to the masses.
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Responses

  1. u0300654 Li Junbin

    “I absolutely recommend the iBOT® to other potential users. This chair will make more difference in the life of a person with a disability than anything else. The iBOT® makes you almost feel as if you have been given the ability to walk again. It is just that important.”

    The above was quoted from Dale, a disabled person. No “abled” person is capable of feeling how Dale felt for life and his future. However, what we can do is try to help them as much as possible, by inventing something that can make them stand up again.

    I was quite amazed when i saw a video that a disabled person sitting on the iBOT can be as tall as a normal person. Lets hope for more new innovative inventions that will help the less fortunate, making their left better each day.

  2. U0204714 Chan Hongjiang

    The iBot is indeed an incredible piece of machinery, and it addresses many issues and problems faced by the wheelchair-bound.

    Actually there are various other problems that the immobile faces, and I wonder if there are other robots out there that can help them solve these problems?

    For example, I saw on the news that there is a new robot that can carry a human on and off the bed safely. Unfortunately, I am unable to find out more about this robot.

    Another big problem for the immobile is when they need to visit the washroom or bathroom. It would be great if there was a robot who can assist them in this area and let them be truly be self-independent, especially in such a personal aspect such as this.

  3. u0205260 – Domingue Jean Michel David

    iBOT looks pretty impressive and advantageous – the ability to climb up stairs and difficult grounds is a major plus, as is the ability to raise the user to eye-level.

    At the same time, similar to the price issue, it is not appropriate for everyone – there are some physical constraints.

    http://www.independencenow.com/ibot/

    Combining additional technology e.g. voice recognition and control could help increase the automation. Then again it will increase the complexity and price.

    Those who have used it have greatly benefited so its definitely a big plus.

    http://www.independencenow.com/ibot/experiences.html

  4. u0205231 Lim Xiaoping

    In general, I think such wheel chair type of robots can provide assistance to the user in two aspects namely mobility and manipulation. This article has demonstrated the excellant performance of the iBOT in providing mobility. The robot also provides the facility to augment manipulation as it is able to raise the user to an elevated height, enabling him to reach higher places safely.

    Besides these functions, manipulation of objects by the user can be further augmented. For instance, a manipulator arm can be fixed on the wheelchair enabling the user to perform simple tasks like holding a cup, grasping objects etc.

    However, besides trying to incorporate as many functions into the robot as possible, there is also an important factor in the design and ultimate effectiveness of the robot, which is the level of control that the user is able to exert. The extend and type of disabilites suffered can vary widely hence to a certain extend, sophistication of the robot’s operation can be limited by the amount of control the user is able to exert. As such, the interface between the robot and the user may require a certain amount of customisation, for instance, use of advanced technologies like voice recognition for people who are unable to provide inputs to the robot using their hands.

  5. Actually after i read this post I wanted to post a comment about how impressive this technology is and what a great help this is to people who are forced to live in a wheelchair.
    But then I realized that this has already been done by other students in the previous posts. So I closed this blog and went through many other articles. At the end I had so many robot-applications in mind and came to the conclusion, that most of these posts are about things only beeing invented for people’s pleasure (ASIMO, AIBO), the ease of work (Road-repair-robots, vacuum-cleaner-robots,..) and the largest group of these articles about applications which are always in some way related to military applications. At the end of the day I had pictures of war in my mind where robots, Biomidics and unmanned vehicles were fighting against each other.
    Then I remembered this post and relized what an impressive invention this chair is. So I wish that more engineers decide to develope these helping (medical) devices instead of military equippment or robot-dogs.
    The problem is probably the huge amount of money which is available in the military-realted industry.


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