A young Indian scientist has designed the world’s first “mind control wheelchair” capable of working on a technology that collects electrical impulses generated in the millions of neurons in the user’s brain, even if the patient is completely unable to move any part of his/her body. Entirely “Made in India” and priced at Rs 2 lakh, the wheelchair invented and launched by Diwakar Vaish, 23, head of Robotics and Research, A-SET Training & Research Institutes, Delhi, is expected to “empower” disabled patients and those who are completely bound to their beds.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Diwakar said, “This wheelchair is simple and works on the basis of the user’s mind. It is made in a way that it does not require any calibration or programming. The user can simply buy it and start using it.”
“I thought of coming up with something which can work on the basis of the brain’s impulses. This chair can be used by patients suffering from LIS (Locked-In Syndrome) in which the patient loses control over his/her muscles and is unable to move any part of his/her body. It would help them get some control of their lives,” Diwakar said.
The wheelchair works on a technology that collects electrical impulses generated in the millions of neurons in the user’s brain. The user needs to wear a headset that connects to the wheelchair via “Bluetooth” to send out the impulses from the brain to the wheelchair. The wheelchair also has 15 different sensors, including “proximity sensor”, “terrain sensor”, and “pressure sensor”, among others, to detect the terrain, pressure and proximity of any hindrance. It runs at a speed of 1 km/hr.
“The wheelchair is for a patient whose brain is at least functional and healthy and who can see, as he/she would require concentration while riding on the wheelchair. We have tried it on patients who are in a vegetative state, but their brain is functional and it was successful,” Diwakar said. His institute has received several pre-orders since the launch and the first lot will roll out in the market in July this year.
Diwakar started programming and coding computer languages when he was 13 years old. During his Class 12 board examinations in 2010, he programmed a robot that could dance. Among his other major inventions are a “brain cloned” robot, a research robot “Manav”, and a brain sensing prosthetic hand. All his designs and technologies are completely “Made in India”.
“We have been the first to work on ‘emotions’ for robots. Earlier, robots did not have ‘emotions’ like humans, but we have been able to achieve this through the method of brain cloning of robots. Brain cloning is like robots ‘learning’ to show and understand emotions as humans. When they are able to ‘think’ like humans, robots would also be able to react like humans. Brain-cloned robots would change the world,” Diwakar told this newspaper.
Diwakar also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign boosted his morale to stay back in India and develop more indigenous robots. “I was extremely motivated by PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign and decided to work hard for the nation and society as we are responsible human beings who should give back to society in whatever way possible. I would request the PM to provide us with some help, not in terms of subsidy, but in terms of some relaxations, because every part needed for robots and robotics is expensive,” he said.
Diwakar said that indigenously made robots would be available in the market at a much cheaper price than the imported ones. The robot “Manav” is priced at Rs 1.5 lakh, but the international market value of similar robots, which are mostly used for research purposes, would be around 10 times of that.