Personal transportation is the act of transporting an individual by using a small, low-speed vehicle. It is a very hot research topic both in industry and academia. There are many different types of personal transportation vehicles, and wheelchairs are one of them. Autonomous driving is another very popular subject that is applicable to the personal transportation vehicles. Autonomous personal transportation vehicles are good examples of service robotics applications. In this study, conversion procedure of a conventional electric wheelchair into an autonomous personal transportation testbed and the application of some basic autonomous driving algorithms on the developed testbed are explained. In literature, there are several studies providing information on wheelchairs’ autonomy but not deep information about the conversion itself. In this paper, the conversion process is investigated in detail, under two main sections. The first part is by-wire conversion, which allows the wheelchair to be controlled via computer commands. The second part includes the studies on sensors, computational system, and human interface. After making such modifications on wheelchair, fundamental algorithms required for autonomy, such as mapping and localization, are implemented successfully. The results are promising for the usage of the developed system as a testbed for examining new autonomous algorithms and evaluating the performance of the perceptional/computational components.
Part of the book: Service Robotics