Project Description

The control of an electrically powered wheelchair poses a complex and hardly manageable task for severely disabled and elderly people with heavily reduced physical and/or mental abilities. For these persons special control devices (e.g. sip-puff-device) with restricted command sets were developed. Steering a wheelchair by means of such speciality controls as well as learning the handling is not only physically and mentally exhausting and tiring but also time-consuming. 

To facilitate such a wheelchair’s steering an intelligent assistance-system will be developed estimating the user’s intention according to the given situation and the operator’s reduced input. The novelty of the approach lies in developing and technically implementing a cognitive model based on the human mind’s cognitive architecture Adaptive Character of Thought - Rational and on theories of human information processing, to describe the behavior of the wheelchair’s user and herewith enabling to derive his/her intended actions. Combining the developed cognitive model and sensory-based information about the environment into one general model allows to successfully interpret the reduced user’s input in a given situation and therefore empowers the assistance-system to plan and execute the actions needed to assist the user in reaching his/her goal. As a result the handling of the complex technical system is greatly simplified, its complexity is less visible, and thus the acceptability of the wheelchair as an important aid in everyday life increased.
This project is an interdisciplinary co-operation between Chair II of the Department of Psychology and the Automation Laboratory of the Institute of Computer Engineering and is supported by the Otto Bock HealthCare GmbH

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