Towards Mobility Equality for Wheelchair Users Through Robotics
Thursday, April 24th, 2008
Location: Troy 2018 - 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Refreshments at 3:30 p.m.
There are currently 2.2 million wheelchair users in the U.S., 83% of which use personal motor
vehicles. With the number of people over the age of 65 expected to increase from 36 million in 2004 to
over 70 million by 2030, wheelchair usage is also expected to rise dramatically. Increasingly, these
persons live in suburban and rural areas where public transportation services are limited, and they rely
heavily on private automobiles. For such an individual, losing the ability to drive can translate to losing
their personal freedom.
In this talk, we present our research in developing of the Automated Transport and Retrieval System
(ATRS), a technology-based solution for drivers in wheelchairs. ATRS integrates robotics and automation
technologies into a traditional automobile without making permanent changes to the vehicle. This
eliminates the need for an attendant or costly van conversion. The heart of ATRS is a smart wheelchair
system which navigates autonomously from the driver's position to a lift platform at the rear of the vehicle.
We will discuss both the technical and commercialization challenges faced in bringing such a robotic
system to market that operates in the presence of and service to people. ATRS is currently pending FDA
approval, and is expected to enter the commercial market in Spring 2008.
John Spletzer is an assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Lehigh
University. Professor Spletzer received his PhD in Computer and Information Science from the University
of Pennsylvania (CIS) in 2003. He also holds Master degrees in CIS (Penn, `99) and Mechanical
Engineering (Johns Hopkins, `93). Prior to returning to full-time studies for his PhD, Professor Spletzer
served as a test engineer for the U. S. Army, where he helped develop NBC defense equipment and
related sensor systems to include long-range infrared (IR) LIDAR systems, as well as passive IR viewers
for driving in degraded visibility conditions. His research focus is mobile robotics, with emphasis on
assistive technologies for driving and multi-agent systems. Most recently, he served as co-Team Leader
on the Ben Franklin Racing Team, which reached the finals of the DARPA Urban Challenge in Nov 2007.
His work is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and
Economic Development, and private corporations to include Freedom Sciences and Thales
Hosted by: Volkan Isler (x-3275)
Administrative support: Shannon Carrothers (x6354)
For more information:
Dr. John Spletzer's Homepage
Last updated: January 7, 2008