Introducing the wheelchair that can stalk

Researchers in Japan are developing a wheelchair whose camera and laser sensor enable it to track--and follow--the person next to it.

The Human-Robot Interaction Center at Japan's Saitama University is developing a wheelchair whose camera and laser sensor enable it to track--and follow--the person next to it.

The wheelchair, which is considered standard in all other respects, uses a distance sensor to determine which way the followed person's shoulders are facing so that it can change direction as the leader does.

"[Care] facilities sometimes don't have enough staff, so a single helper has to push two wheelchairs," a Saitama spokesperson says in a news report. "With wheelchairs like this, which can follow automatically, you can have two, three, or four moving together. So we aim to use this type of wheelchair in practical applications."

Of course there's always the potential for impractical and uproarious applications, such as group wheelchair line dancing alongside a charitable leader. One never knows what lies in Paula Abdul's future.

Related stories:
Sniff-activated system drives wheelchairs
Robotic legs get wheelchair users walking

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