Looks at Robotic Wheelchairs - Could Walking Cars be Next?

The Cutting Edge News and Views Auto Website Features the Chiba Robotics Walking Wheelchair Among the Hot Rods, Hybrids and Hemis.

Rogers, AR October 31, 2012

Among the daily stream of articles on the latest car and truck models, classic cars, and auto efficiency is a mechanical design of a different kind: The Chiba Robotics Wheelchair, a technological breakthrough of interest to gearheads everywhere, begging the question: could robotic advances in wheelchair technology have a future impact on the automobile? It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it may not be as far-fetched as people think.

The Chiba Robotics Wheelchair differs from other modern wheelchairs in a fundamental way: instead of simply rolling (making curbs, steps and uneven terrain unmanageable), it "walks" with robotic legs when necessary. The wheelchair, which automatically allows its owner to switch from motorized rolling on wheels to legs depending on the environment, keeps the person safely stable the whole time.

"Imagine a car that automatically balances itself with robotic legs instead of rolling over on a steep incline," says co-owner Brian Barret. "If cars could walk, there would be a whole new definition of 'all-terrain vehicle.'"

Chiba has no plans to implement their motorized wheel-legs onto automobiles; getting the technology right on a wheelchair is challenging enough. But, just as robotics may well change the face of wheelchairs for the disabled, they will likely play a part in the cars and trucks of the future.

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