A wheelchair capable of detecting and avoiding edge drop-offs to maintain user safety and increase independence.

  • User Challenges
  • Risk of falling off ledges and curbs
  • Solutions
  • Edge detection wheelchair
  • Audible alert system
  • Exploring haptic alerts

Coordinated a group of engineers and designers to participate in a week-long “Disability Makeathon” in our home. I shared my design vision to create an edge detection wheelchair, and we were able to create a functional working prototype by the end of the week.

If a user is too close to any change in elevation, a high pitched audio frequency alerts him or her of the potential danger. We also created lateral edge detectors to assist the user when going up and down ramps through haptic feedback. For instance, when an individual is navigating up a ramp and is too far to the left, potentially in danger of falling, their left armrest vibrates alerting them to readjust their direction.

After the Makeathon, I brought together several new groups of students from UC Berkeley to continue refining the edge detection system, improving the chair design with new new sensors and power distribution.

Our team is presently exploring haptic feedback as another means to communicate safety to the user. If an individual is driving forward and a ledge is in front of them, the front-part of the seat vibrates. The edge detection wheelchair enables independence, foremost by ensuring safety.

A gallery of this project