By Ben Coxworth via New Atlas
If you’re the user of a powered wheelchair, it goes without saying that you really don’t want that chair to tip over, or to crash into obstacles. The LUCI system – which gets added to existing chairs – is intended to keep those things from happening.
LUCI consists of multiple sensor modules that combine technologies such as stereo computer vision, radar, and infrared/ultrasonic range-finding. These units are fitted onto a third-party chair, with the main ones going between the seat and the wheels. They’re powered by the chair’s battery, reportedly drawing less than five percent of its power.
As the user pilots their chair down the street or through buildings, the sensors detect hazards such as drop-offs down curbs or stairs, or impending collisions. When any of these are detected, the system automatically slows the chair down to a stop. It additionally warns users when they’re on an incline that’s likely to cause the chair to tip over. If a tip-over does occur, LUCI can be set up to send a text, push or email alert to an emergency contact – it also sounds an audible alarm.
System data is displayed on an armrest-mounted dashboard unit. Utilizing that device, users can manually override the warnings and chair-stops if needed, causing the accident-avoidance system to temporarily shut down. Firmware updates are automatically downloaded via Wi-Fi, when the chair isn’t in use.
LUCI is currently available for pre-order in the US, priced at US$8,445 – insurance or regional assistance programs may cover some of the cost. The system presently works with Permobil and Quantum Edge chairs, although compatibility with other brands is in the works.