A Sonar Approach to Obstacle Detection for a Vision-Based Autonomous Wheelchair.

Del Castillo Guillermo, Skaar Steven, Cárdenas Antonio, Fehr Linda
Robotics and Autonomous Systems. Vol 54, pp. 967-981, Dec 2006., 2006.


An advanced prototype Computer Controlled Power Wheelchair Navigation System or CPWNS has been developed to provide autonomy for highly disabled users, whose mix of disabilities makes it difficult or impossible to control their own power chairs in their homes. The working paradigm is "teach and repeat" a mode of control for typical industrial holonomic robots. Ultrasound sensors, which during subsequent autonomous tracking will be used to detect obstacles, also are active during teaching. Based upon post-processed data collected during this teaching event, elaborate trajectories -- which may involve multiple direction changes, pivoting and so on, depending upon the requirements of the typically restricted spaces within which the chair must operate -- will later be called upon by the disabled rider. An off-line postprocessor assigns an ultrasound profile to the sequence of poses of any taught trajectory. Use of this profile during tracking obviates most of the inherent problems of using ultrasound to avoid obstacles while retaining the ability to near solid objects, such as when passing through a narrow doorway, where required by the environment and trajectory objectives. The work in this article describes a procedure to obtain consistent maps of sonar boundaries during the teaching process, and a preliminary approach to use this information during the tracking phase