New collision-avoidance technology for wheelchairs has been released globally by a Nashville-based team of developers at LUCI.
The team behind it described how the computer uses sensor-fusion technologies to allow a power wheelchair to “see” its environment, giving riders increased stability, security and cloud connectivity.
LUCI mounts onto a power wheelchair between the power base and the seat, to help users avoid collisions and dangerous drop-offs while maintaining personalized driving control.
Through cloud-based capabilities, LUCI can also monitor and alert users and caregivers of low battery, possible tipping scenarios, and other important updates regarding the chair and the user.
The LUCI team spent over two years collaborating with clinical professionals on the project, logging over 25,000 hours of user testing to develop an invention to help people with physical disabilities drive safely, precisely and independently.
The team’s R&D efforts have already resulted in a total of 16 patents, eight of which are pending.
“I was blown away by not only the product and the innovative features of LUCI, but just the whole culture and the rider-focused passion that was brought to its unique design,” said Kelly Waugh, PT, MAPT, ATP and clinic coordinator for the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering at the University of Colorado Denver.
“It’s going to be a game changer for a lot of people who use power wheelchairs, but I also think LUCI is going to open up power mobility for people who might not have been candidates before.
“Most importantly, it will enable power wheelchair riders to go places and do things with greater ease, confidence and safety.”
LUCI was founded by Barry Dean, whose daughter Katherine, 19, has cerebral palsy and has used a wheelchair her whole life.
He said: “Wheelchair users were left behind when it comes to most innovative technology,. We realized no one else was working on this problem in a meaningful way so my brother Jered (Dean, CTO of LUCI) and I set out to create a solution for Katherine.
What started as a labor of love among family members has ultimately created a safer, more stable way for people with disabilities to navigate their world and stay connected to loved ones. Today, we’re excited to launch LUCI and continue collaborating with researchers, universities and other companies using our open platform to move the industry forward together.”