Vulcan: Intelligent Robo-Wheelchair Navigates Autonomously

University of Michigan computer science and engineering professor Ben Kuipers created Vulcan a few years ago, and now graduate student Colin Johnson and robotics researcher Jong Jin Park have added innovative new capabilities. These capabilities include: the ability to learn the spatial structure of the environment, which allows the robot to efficiently represent its opportunities for travel in the environment; the ability to plan and carry out motion in the environment, avoiding both static and dynamic obstacles; and using its perceptual capabilities to handle the kinds of perceptual problems that arise in natural human built environments. Vulcan can identify 4,800 changing pathway scenarios per second and uses two LIDAR sensors, giving it a 360° field of view of a rapidly changing environment.