Tmsuk Co Ltd (Munakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture) released an electric wheelchair robot that can be ridden from behind.
The robot, "Rodem," was developed so that the user can easily ride on the wheelchair from a bed, sofa, etc. At the time of getting on/off the robot, its seat protrudes backward and diagonally downward, and the user straddles the seat from behind. There is no backrest, but the user can lean forward to put his/her weight on the front part of the seat.
"While conventional wheelchairs give a hug, the Rodem gives a piggyback," Tmsuk President Yoichi Takamoto said.
When the robot is moving, the height of the seat surface can be up to 785mm. The height can be lowered to 400mm at the time of getting on/off the robot. The height of the user's eyes becomes equivalent to that of the eyes of a standing person, making it easier to communicate and do daily work, Tmsuk said.
By separately controlling the four wheels and using omni-wheels, the robot has a small turning radius and can even turn on the spot. Buttons and a joystick on the front side are used to move the robot and move up/down the seat.
Also, the robot can be remotely controlled with a smartphone. So, it is possible to make the robot come close the user's bed before riding on it and move to a storage space after use. It is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and its rear wheels are omni-wheels.
The robot can be charged by using a 100V domestic power source. After being charged for eight hours, it can travel 15km or more. Its maximum speed is 6km/h. The robot can clime up a slope of up to about 10° and move over a height difference of about 4cm. As a rechargeable battery, it uses a lead-acid battery.
The mass of the main unit is about 110kg. Its width and length are 690mm and 1,000mm (1,203mm when the seat sticks out), respectively. The price of the robot is ¥980,000 (approx US$8,734).