Being able to crawl and explore their world is an important part of a baby’s development. But for children born with spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and other debilitating conditions, that’s simply not possible without assistance — like from this fantastic robot wheelchair designed just for infants.
Typically, self-powered wheelchairs are only available to kids aged five years or older. But James Galloway, an associate professor of physical therapy, and Sunil Agrawal, a professor of mechanical engineering, both at the University of Delaware, have created a robot wheelchair designed for kids aged six months to three years. It’s operated via a simple joystick interface, a skill most kids have no trouble learning via video games, and is augmented with sensors preventing it from crashing into things. It can even be controlled remotely via a second wireless joystick, making it also perfect for baby races.
Being mobile is particularly important for babies and infants since it’s during those early years that their brains develop most of its capabilities for learning and understanding. Even if getting to their favourite toy means pointing a joystick in its direction, instead of crawling across the floor to reach it. [YouTube via Boing Boing]