Well I have this dream for some years now. It’s not that I haven’t done anything about it, it’s just that there is a limit to my skills and knowledge and an even more finite limit to my finances.
Some years ago I trawled the internet studying all the LEGO Mindstorms NXT Robotic Technology geniuses to see who I felt was the best in the world.
My intention… to see if by combining LEGO Robotic Technology with lightweight electric cars we could develop light weight, affordable and safe mobility devices which could not only ‘follow lines’ and ‘avoid obstacles’ they could localize themselves in known environments providing safe passage for users like Mac who have significant vision and mobility issues to contend with.
I tracked down Daniele Benedetelli, an Italian Automation Engineering Masters Graduate who is, not only a robotics legend, but also a musical genius… therein solving my personal shortcomings as I don’t believe Danny has a limit to his skills and knowledge.
He was enthusiastic about the project and despite neither of us having any money to ‘pursue it full time’ we have been collaborating (time permitting) ever since.
Here is an application Danny has submitted for our project to Campus Party Europe, hoping to gain the support needed for development.
It is nice to have a shared vision of lightweight, affordable, smart wheelchairs for EVERYONE with someone who doesn’t even come from the disability sector.
I abhor the idea all the therapists and medicos involved in the lives of our children believe ‘learned immobility’ is acceptable. I resent all these organisations who receive money because OUR children have disabilities think it is OK to compromise their lives.
I will keep chasing this dream because one day this might mean at the very least:
- Mac can move himself around/between classrooms – further reducing the need for ‘teachers aide/personal attendant’ support.
- Mac can transport himself around the school either by following specific coloured lines, algorithmically mapped safe passage or ‘free wheeling’ with obstacle avoidance.
- Mac can deliver message to the office, collect items required by the teacher or run errands just as the other students do.
- Mac can go where he wants and be with who ever he choses during break time.
- I can ‘call Mac for dinner’ and he can come (or not) of his own volition,
- I can send Mac out to round up the chooks to put them to bed for the night, feed the dog or close the gate.
- Mac can leave and enter any room in the house whenever he wants to.
- Mac could decide to ‘pop’ up the hill to visit his Grandparents or his cousins… all by himself.
- Mac would have independent mobility that is inexpensive and really “smart”.
It is certainly worth the challenge – for all kids, not just Mac.