Having a wheelchair is great for mobility, but getting from your bed to one isn't exactly something most wheelchair users can do autonomously. The Rodem is a next-generation wheelchair that aims to make sliding into it something that everyone can perform all by themselves.
Instead of requiring a nurse to assist you into the wheelchair and off it, the Rodem lets you do that on your own, allowing for more independent mobility. It redesigns the conventional wheelchair altogether, turning it into a scooter-like machine that you astride like a motorcycle.
The new mobility vehicle was created by the Veda International Robot Research and Development Centre with the help of Japanese robot maker Tmsuk Co. Users can get on the scooter-like seats from the wheelchair's rear all on their own, with their knees and chest rested on cushions. It features motorbike-style handles, four wheels (for better balance) and a joystick-controlled steering mechanism.
While I'm not sure how much more comfortable the position is compared to a wheelchair, it sure looks like a more interesting one. Can you say Segway on four wheels? Since it looks bigger than a conventional wheelchair, though, it might actually hinder mobility some bit - a major problem many wheelchair users have put forward in the past.
There are no immediate plans to commercialize the Rodem, which makes sense, since this is likely a first-generation model from which they'll improve upon. If they can make it more compact than a regular wheelchair while providing the same non-assisted boarding, it could prove a real hit.