Volume 40 Number 5, September/October 2003
Pages 423 — 432
Intelligent walkers for the elderly: Performance and safety testing of VA-PAMAID robotic walkerAndrew J. Rentschler, MS; Rory A. Cooper, PhD; Bruce Blasch, PhD; Michael L. Boninger, MDHuman Engineering Research Laboratories, VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare Systems, Pittsburgh, PA; Departments of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, Physical Medicine
and Rehabilitation, and Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Atlanta VA Medical Center, Decatur, GAAbstract — A walker that could help navigate and avoid collisions with obstacles could help reduce health costs and increase the quality of care and independence of thousands of people. This study evaluated the safety and performance of the Veterans Affairs Personal Adaptive Mobility Aid (VA-PAMAID). We performed engineering tests on the VA-PAMAID to determine safety factors, including stability, energy consumption, fatigue life, and sensor and control malfunctions. The VA-PAMAID traveled 10.9 km on a full charge and avoided obstacles while traveling at a speed of up to 1.2 m/s. No failures occurred during static stability, climatic, or fatigue testing. Some problems were encountered during obstacle climbing and sensor and control testing. The VA-PAMAID has good range, has adequate reaction time, and is structurally sound. Clinical trials are planned to compare the device to other low-technical adaptive mobility devices.Key words: engineering test, navigational assistance, obstacle avoidance, robotic walker, visual impairment.