Electric wheelchairs aren't a new thing, but they are still a long way from becoming vehicles truly capable of taking disabled people anywhere and everywhere.
The problem that high-tech wheelchairs haven't defeated yet is that of uneven terrain. Even the models supposedly capable of climbing stairs rely on level surfaces.
The wheelchair developed by a team from Japan's Chiba Institute of Technology must be the one farthest along the development tree.
The wheels are used like legs (used to climb stairs one at a time). An array of sensors detects obstacles and terrain changes, after which it adjusts the position of the wheels automatically. The pitch of the seat is modified according to the same parameters.
The video above was shot by Diginfo TV
and shows the chair performing several maneuvers, even 90-degree turns, deployment of stabilizers, driving while one wheel is on an incline, etc.
Overall, the wheelchair doesn't beat NASA's exoskeleton
but it's a fine piece of work nevertheless.