Students Building Autonomous Wheelchair

With the help of robotics engineer Dan Barry--who is the husband of MHC professor Sue Barry--a group of Mount Holyoke computer science students is creating an autonomous wheelchair that will hopefully one day allow people with severe neurologic disorders to get around on their own.

The chair was put through its paces last summer in a trial run at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. The students, along with Barry and computer science professor Audrey Lee-St. John, are now using feedback from hospital workers to further develop the chair.

The "Independence Enhancing Wheelchair" was originally developed by ActivMedia Robotics of Amherst, New Hampshire (now Adept MobileRobots) in 2005 with Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the National Institutes of Health.