Engineers at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon universities, working with Green Lane, PA-based Freedom Lift Corp., have integrated robotics, laser, and wireless technologies into a new system that promises to make it safer for wheelchair users to drive a car.

Current solutions for wheelchair users who desire independent mobility require operators to sit in their chairs while driving. Because they are often poorly secured and not crash-test-approved, wheelchairs provide far less protection than standard seats. The new Automatic Transport and Retrieval System (ATRS) allows wheelchair users to get in and out of their vehicles, stow and retrieve their chairs, and drive while sitting in standard automobile seats.

The ATRS contains three key components: an articulated power seat that extends outside the vehicle to facilitate wheelchair-to-seat transfers, a power lift platform, and a "smart" wheelchair system. ATRS makes it possible for a limited mobility individual to safely transport their wheelchair into and out of a motor vehicle without the assistance of a caregiver.

For more information, click here .