Three final-year engineering students of Amritha Vishwa Vidyapeetham University in Coimbatore have developed a self-driving wheelchair called ‘Self-E’ with an autonomous navigation system which ensured easy travel of users from one place to another without user intervention. The Robotic Operating System (ROS) helps navigate automatically making it user-friendly. The user can touch any point on the generated map, and the wheelchair will drive to that place automatically navigating its own path and avoiding obstacles.
Unlike the imported wheelchairs, Self-E would cost only less than a lakh once the technology is successfully commercialized in India.
Dr Rajesh Kannan Megalingam, Asst. Professor of Electronics & Communications at the university is the brain behind the project. He said: “The Self-E self-driving wheelchair is unique in the sense that it is the first self-driving wheelchair in India built by research lab of a university without any collaboration with foreign universities or companies. It now needs to be tested in different environments like hospitals and airports with patients and wheelchair users. The current version is a successful prototype and, with the help of Technology Business Incubator of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, we hope to commercialize the product.”
The three students who designed the Self-E wheelchair – Chinta Ravi Teja, Sarath Sreekanth and Akhil Raj – have been working for the last two years as junior researchers at the same college.
The newly designed wheel-chair maps the surrounding environment, including dynamic and static obstacles such as people, walls, pillars, tables, chairs, etc. using a laser sensor called LiDAR which will be facilitated in any Android smartphone or tablet through a specially developed app.