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This paper presents interaction between a user and a smart electric wheelchair. We propose a personal mobility tool (PMT) which integrates autonomous mobile robot navigation technology with intuitive and cognitive interaction between a user and a smart wheelchair. An intuitive and noncontinuous input method to enable a user to specify a direction in which he/she wants to go is proposed. Also, to help a user interpret robot behaviors, an output interface to realize informative communication between a user and the PMT is described. In this paper, we introduce a vibrotactile interface to present environmental information from a smart wheelchair to the user. We conducted experiments to study the possibility of utilization of the input interface and the output vibrotactile interface. Experimental results show that the input interface can be successfully used even by users who had not used it before. In the experiments with the vibrotactile interface, users tried to detect distance and angle toward obstacles based on vibration stimuli. Through the experiments, we found that it was difficult for users to detect the exact positions of obstacles, but they were able to detect the direction of the obstacle movement.
Date of Conference: 11-15 April 2011