ADAPTIVE CONTROL OF A MOBILE ROBOT FOR THE FRAIL VISUALLY IMPAIRED

Gerard Lacey1, Shane MacNamara1, Helen Petrie2, Heather Hunter3, Marianne Karlsson4, Nikos Katevas5 and Jan Rundenschöld6
1Computer Science Department, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
2Sensory Disabilities Research Unit, University of Hertfordshire, England
3National Council for the Blind of Ireland
4Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
5Zenon SA, Greece
6Euroflex System AB, Sweden

Abstract

This paper describes the development and evaluation of a novel robot mobility aid for frail Visually Impaired People (VIPs). Frailty makes the use of conventional mobility aids for the blind difficult or impossible and consequently VIPs are heavily dependent on carers for their personal mobility. In the context of a rapidly increasing proportion of elderly in the population this level of support may not always be available in the future. The aim of this research is to develop a robot that will increase the independence of frail VIPs. This paper will describe the walking aid and its overall control system. The controller adapts its operating mode to satisfy the constraints imposed by both the environment and the user using a probabilistic reasoning system. The reasoning system and the software architecture of the robot will be described in detail as will the evaluation of the robot in a residential home for visually impaired men.
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Last modified: Thu Jan 21 10:38:39 PST 1999