If you’re getting on in your years and think that you would prefer the company of robots instead of grown up children who treat you nice just because of the potential inheritance that they might receive upon your demise, would you rather move over to Japan? After all, that country has an ageing population, not to mention a high ratio of robots-per-capita – and today we shall take a look at a robotic wheelchair which is the result of work from researchers at ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories as part of their Ubiquitous Network Robot (UNR) project.

Relying on a bunch of innovative platforms such as GPS navigation, it uses unbiquitous sensor networks and mobile devices to automatically meet an elderly shopper at a mall entrance, taking said person shopping after that. The shopper can use a smartphone to reserve the wheelchair, logging in your details, and the wheelchair will rely on GPS coordinates to meet the shopper without any further assistance. Said wheelchair will depend on a Wii controller to get around.

A bunch of safety features have been incorporated so that you will have added peace of mind when you get around on it. On-board laser rangefinders will help you avoid collisions with other shoppers and obstacles, while it is smart enough to plot the best route through busy areas automatically. Do you think Americans need this? After all, there are other smart wheelchairs that we’ve seen in the past, too.

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