18th International Symposium on Artificial Life and Robotics (AROB), Daejeon, South Korea, 30 January - 01 February 2013, pp.379-382
Welfare devices are getting more popular along with the growing population of elder and disable. The significance of an easy to use wheelchair is rising recently. The authors have developed a new wheelchair STAVi which has a unique pig-gybacking design. Because of the growing importance of environmental safety, new driving assistance systems are required. A superficial vibrotactile feedback mechanism is designed to transmit environmental information to the wheelchair driver unlike the visual or audible signals that distract attention. Our goal is to develop a driving assistance system using vibrotactile feedback to the driver and to guarantee the safety. As a first step we evaluate simple vibrotactile system for the newly designed electric wheelchair. In this paper, we clarify the concept of vibration generation and propose a vibration feedback system. Also, we analyze the cognitive characteristics of vibration in order to show the effectiveness of the obstacle localization using vibrotactile feedback. It is expected that the drivers can easily estimate the location of environmental obstacles just by using the vibrotactile feedback. The effectiveness of the proposed system is confirmed by experiments.