Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 37 | Number 1 - Page 4

TECHNOLOGY WATCH Wheelchair-Accessible Autonomous Shuttle Vehicle Sure, Lyft and Uber have been commonplace in much of the world for a few years, but it was only recently that Lift enabled an “Access Mode” and Uber WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle) became available in some select cities. Hopefully, the WAVe will spread. Those companies and others are also focusing on self- driving technologies. In fact, some are even starting to think forward about populations who can benefit greatly from the self-driving technology. Lyft, for example, is working with its autonomous technology partner Aptiv and the National Federation of the Blind on designing self-driving service that works for blind and low-vision passengers. This is great, but what about wheelchair accessibility? That is where May Mobility is headed. The company already operates a non-accessible, commercial service of self-driving vehicle (with an on-board attendant to take over if needed) in very select areas. The hope is to be the first to launch a fully driverless autonomous service soon. Now May Mobility is taking action to actually address the practical realities of true accessibility. May Mobility is working directly with community members to develop the vehicle from the chassis up with a focus on accessible design and safety. This includes a design for wheelchair ramp for entry and exit along with a plan for pick-up and drop-off points. The focus on safety includes a plan to secure the wheelchair for the course of the trip. The goal is to soon pilot test the accessible May Mobility shuttles in operation in Columbus, Ohio, Providence, Road Island, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Other cities will follow. May Mobility pictured below Gyroscopic Wheelchairs If nothing else, the legacy of the iBOT, developed in 1990s, will always remain as the father of gyroscopic wheelchairs. The technology was far ahead of its time. Here are two examples in the tech in action today. The Gyrolift is the first gyroscopic wheelchair that allows the user to move in both sitting and standing positions. It is a combination of a Segway (also developed from the iBOT) and a robotic system of stabilized modular seating. It offers the user an automatic stabilization, an innovative system of security and an intuitive control to increase his comfort during his displacements. Gyrolift allows you to move both sitting and standing on a compact, handy and totally secure solution. It proposes mobility that meets physiological, psychological and autonomy needs, thus allowing maintenance and reintegration into employment. 4 uab.edu/sci The Omeo is a powerful two-wheeled self-balancing platform. You can operate the Omeo using a joystick or go completely hands-free. In hands-free mode, you control the direction by shifting your weight. It is easiest to start by holding onto the handgrips until you get used to how your body can move the machine. The Omeo comes in a standard set up that fits through standard doorways and will take you most places. When you are ready to explore nature, you can change from the standard setup to the off-road kit. You can go almost anywhere over uneven terrain, scale inclines and navigate troughs, while always remaining level in your seat – giving you access to places such as beaches, forests, tracks and pathways that would be impossible for most other personal mobility devices.