A Heuristic Approach to Overcome Architectural Barriers Using a Robotic Wheelchair.IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng 2019; 27(9):1846-1854IT
The Mobility Enhancement roBotic (MEBot) wheelchair was developed to improve the safety and accessibility of wheelchair users when facing architectural barriers. MEBot uses pneumatic actuators attached to its frame and six wheels to provide curb ascending/descending for heights up to 20.3 cm. To improve MEBot's application, this study used a heuristic approach with power wheelchair users to evaluate and improve the MEBot application at different curb heights. Wheelchair users were trained on MEBot's features to operate its curb ascending/descending application. Three trials were carried out with wheelchair users ascending and descending three curbs of different height. Quantitative variables were analyzed to improve the sequential steps to ascend/descend curbs. Additionally, the application's effectiveness and efficiency were measured by the number of completed tasks, change in seat angle, and task completion time. Results showed that participants completed each trial and applied alternative strategies to traverse different curb heights. Furthermore, results suggested the combination and/or re-arrangement of steps to reduce task completion time. MEBot demonstrated its effectiveness to ascend/descend different curb heights with a heterogeneous participant sample. Future work will incorporate participant's most efficient strategies to improve the ascending/ascending process and the efficiency of the MEBot application.