Robot wheelchairs would read users’ minds
Date: Aug 30, 2014
Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said it aims to start a project to develop “robot wheelchairs,” which detect the user’s intentions from their brain waves and automatically move in line with the user’s will.
While the graying of Japan’s population continues, the ministry expects that robot wheelchairs will be put to practical use in nursing care facilities, where a labor shortage is predicted.
The ministry aims to utilize the robot wheelchairs at 2020 Tokyo Paralympic venues to introduce them to the rest of the world as an advanced technology.
The ministry included ¥500 (4.8 million USD) million for development costs in its initial budget request for next fiscal year’s government budget.
In cooperation with research institutes, telecommunications companies and machinery manufacturers, the ministry aims to put the technology to practical use possibly in 2017.
The planned robot wheelchairs will have sensors that detect users’ intentions by analyzing their brain waves and nervous system activity, moving automatically.
Some research institutions, such as Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International based in Kyoto Prefecture, have studied technologies needed for the robot wheelchairs. They include a system in which computers recognize users’ intentions if users think about the directions, for example right or left, in which they want to move.