Smart Walker Strolls Ahead

July 5, 2001 | Source: Technology Review

A smart walker that will guide users, providing assistance with steering and braking, has been developed by a research team at the University of Virginia’s Medical Automation Research Center.

The prototype uses a laser scanner to sense the environment, detecting a user’s intentions primarily via pressure monitors in the handles. If a person loses footing, the walker will detect the high force and burst of speed, then hit the brakes to try and prevent a fall. The scanner detects elevation — the walker will stop at a step or curb.

The walker can also learn the location of important items around the house and include them as steering options. It could even be programmed to recognize verbal commands and steer accordingly.