A computer-controlled, programmable control interface allows safe, intuitive manual control for motorized wheelchairs that operate in variable terrain. The key feature of this technology is its proprietary computer program that enables an operator to manage a load as if it were light and on a smooth level surface, no matter what the real-world load or grade is. Operation is completely intuitive and does not require manipulation of throttle and/or brakes.

The technology has been applied to wheelchairs, but also is adaptable to devices like bicycles, pallet jacks, industrial carts, golf carts, or virtually any wheeled device that benefits from power assist.

A key characteristic of the technology is its ability to constantly monitor input and effort, and instantly adapt the device to real-world conditions. The operator experiences pushing a light load on a smooth, level surface whatever the actual load or terrain. The practical result of this technology for wheelchairs is that users experience rolling in a world where everything is smooth and level when, in fact, that is seldom the case in the real world.

The implementation uses small sensors, motors, batteries, and inexpensive processors that can handle complex control algorithms. Recent innovations in processors and batteries are now making this new class of devices economically feasible.

The technology can be adapted to a wide range of applications and power sources. The power assist interface is easy to learn and safe to use. The operator grabs the handle as if it were completely manual and pushes, pulls, or steers in a completely intuitive manner.

It safely controls the load up or down grades as if on a level surface. It is easy going up and will not run away going down. It can limit the maximum force on the operator’s hands to specified or regulated limits, and can operate with significantly fewer batteries than throttle-controlled devices.

This technology is offered by Competitive Technologies. For more information, view the yet2.com TechPak at http://info.hotims.com/28053-165.

Medical Design Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2010 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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