Tokyo-based (and globalized) bearing supplier NSK has announced [JP] the development of an autonomous mobile robot that one day will be able to assist people in wheel chairs. The main selling point of the so-called “Human Assist Guidance Robot” is that it can detect obstacles and guide users through them. And uneven surfaces or slopes aren’t a problem either.
The robot uses lasers and virtual repulsive forces to calculate distances to obstacles and their location. It’s able to guide people smoothly through minimizing those repulsive forces.
The way the robot works is that users apply force to a handle inside its body to control the speed and direction of travel. The harder you push, the faster the robot goes. An independent two-wheel drive and a caster mechanism (pictured above) make sure the robot drives smoothly, even on corrugated surfaces.