Oral Communication

Assessment of a navigation assistance system for power wheelchair

Mrs Marie BABELa, Mr François PASTEAUa, Mr Bastien FRAUDETb, Mrs Sophie ACHILLEc, Mrs Amelie COLINc, Dr Benoit NICOLASd, Dr Aurelie DURUFLEd, Mr Luc LE PAPEe, Dr Philippe GALLIENd

a INSA Rennes, b Pole Saint Hélier, c Reseau BreizhPc, d Pole St Helier, e Société Ergovie

Objective: The use of an electric wheelchair is, for many people with disabilities, the only mode of independent travel giving them the possibility of free outdoor or internal displacements. The use of a power wheelchair may be difficult because of sensory disabilities, including visual impairment, or motor disorders of the upper limb. The objective of this study is to assess a robotic embedded assistive electronic system. The system integrates the manual control with sensor-based constraints by means of a dedicated optimization strategy. This system can detect obstacles then correct speed and trajectory to avoid collisions and improve driving.

Method: We asked patients to validate the reliability and efficiency of this system of assistance on an ecological circuit as well as on a laboratory circuit. Speed of implementation, number of collisions, and trajectory correction rates were recorded. Satisfaction with the conduct was also evaluated. Each time two evaluations were performed, in random order, with and without the system on an identical power wheelchair. This study received the approval of the Ethics Committee of the University Hospital of Rennes.

Results: 25 users, all current users of electric wheelchairs, participated in the evaluation. No significant differences were found in the number of collisions. The rate of support during use was 50%, despite that users do not notice any difference in terms of driving especially on the Quest2 -ESAT scale.

Discussion, conclusion: This study validated the reliability of the system and its lack of impact on the conduct of regular users, despite the frequent activation of the system. The impact on the number of collisions in the laboratory circuit is low, but it is explained by the fact that we were in the presence of confirmed users with total control of the wheelchair. This first step was unavoidable, and opens new opportunities for patients who actually have no possibility to use a power wheelchair. This will be the subject of further studies.

Keywords : smart wheelchair, robotic