Date of Award

6-2017

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering

Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Meyer

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Hudson

Third Advisor

Dr. Kapseong Ro

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Power wheelchairs provide great assistance for people with locomotion disabilities. However, for those who have tremor, operation of the wheelchair can be challenging and result in a chance to get into an accident. The focus of this research project is to create a semi-virtual reality power wheelchair driving simulator that can be used for testing a notch filter for tremors in a safe laboratory environment and obtain data on human operator movements for future mathematical modeling. The simulator incorporates a realistic and immersive virtual environment and power wheelchair movement into it. For the experiment, a physical PWC joystick was connected to the PC through an Arduino programmable controller. The signal from the joystick was converted in the controller into a signal readable by the simulation software to move the virtual power wheelchair in the virtual environment; the simulation software sends a joystick signal back to the physical wheelchair, again through the controller, to produce wheelchair wheel movement and sound consistent with the actions in the virtual environment. A participant experiences the semi-virtual environment sitting in a physical wheelchair located on a stationary drive platform and wearing head-mounted virtual reality headset. Plots of the powered wheelchair joystick inputs, velocity, rotational velocity about the center of mass, rotational angle around the center of mass, rotational velocity of each wheel and trajectory of the wheelchair are compared and discussed in this research work. Results show that the simulator is functioning successfully and outputs the results required for future analysis.

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