You have heard of wheelchairs and power wheel chairs. There is another technological advancement of the same category called the smart wheelchair.
Generally speaking, any electronically powered chair that helps a user who is physically disabled to move around can be categorized as a smart wheelchair. In a smart wheelchair an artificial control system (a device to manage, command, direct or regulate other devices) replaces normal controls for the user.
Smart wheelchairs are specially designed for certain user types. You have smart wheelchairs designed for people with cognitive difficulties e.g. dementia. In these kinds of chairs you will find features such as collision control or avoidance technology to prevent accidental collisions.
You can also find smart wheelchairs for patients with motor disabilities e.g. cerebral palsy and paraplegia. These smart wheelchairs are sensitive to small muscle movement of the user. The chair translates these small muscular movements as a command and implements them. These kinds of chairs usually make use of artificial intelligence.
A smart wheelchair is controlled by a computer and has a variety of sensors. The technology that is employed in these types of wheelchairs is sometimes one that is used in mobile robotics. The user interface available with these wheelchairs includes the likes of joysticks, sip-and-puff sensor or a touch sensitive display.
Obstacle detection, smart wheelchairs work with sonar, infrared sensors or laser rangefinder technologies to help the user steer around obstacles and ensure that there is no collision.
Some, highly advanced, smart wheelchairs also come with robotic controls that can be used to grab handles and manipulate common, small objects.