4WD Permoveh wheelchair turns on a dime

Reinventing the wheel: Masaharu Komori demos the Permoveh, a wheelchair with omnidirectional wheels.

(Credit:
Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

Japanese researchers led by Masaharu Komori, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Kyoto University, recently demoed the Permoveh, or Personal Mobility Vehicle, as a prototype next-generation wheelchair.

The Permoveh has four wheels of the same size, and each wheel contains 32 rollers that can rotate in a perpendicular direction to the rim. As the vid below shows, the vehicle can move in any direction when the user operates a hand-held control.

When the user wants to travel forward or back, the wheels alone move; when going sideways, the rollers move. When traveling diagonally, both wheels and rollers move.

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