The Smart Wheelchair Project

The Smart Wheelchair Project


System Overview

In this project, we are exploring the use of synthesized landmark maps for localization of a smart wheelchair in outdoor and urban environments. Three dimensional maps are generated using data acquired from high fidelity sensors and GPS. The resulting maps are then synthesized to extract salient features, such as poles and building corners, for use as landmarks in localization. By leveraging such detailed maps and landmark data a smart wheelchair can localize itself inside the map with a much a less expensive sensor suite. This design allows us to gain many of the benefits of higher fidelity sensors and reduce the overall cost of the system.


Terrain Classification

Autonomous Navigation to the Bookstore

Street View Visualization


  • D. Schwesinger, A. Shariati, C. Montella, and J. Spletzer “A Smart Wheelchair Ecosystem for Autonomous Navigation in Urban Environments” in Autonomous Robots, pp. 1-20, Feb. 2016.
    Full text (PDF) – Google Scholar
  • C. Montella, M. Pollock, D. Schwesinger, and J. Spletzer, “Stochastic Classification of Urban Terrain for Smart Wheelchair Navigation,” the IROS Workshop on Progress, Challenges and Future Perspectives in Navigation and Manipulation Assistance for Robotic Wheelchairs, Vila Moura, Portugal, October 2012.
    Full text (PDF) – Google Scholar
  • C. Montella, T. Perkins, J. Spletzer and M. Sands, “To the Bookstore! Autonomous Wheelchair Navigation in an Urban Environment,” the International Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR2012), Matsushima, Japan, July 2012.
    Full text (PDF) – Google Scholar
  • C. Savtchenko and J. Spletzer, “Sidewalk-level People Tracking with a Low-cost 3D LIDAR System,” Lehigh University Technical Report LU-CSE-11-003.
    Full text (PDF) – Google Scholar
  • C. Gao and J. R. Spletzer, “On-line Calibration of Multiple LIDARs on a Mobile Vehicle Platform,” accepted by the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Anchorage, Alaska, May 2010
    Full text (PDF) – Google Scholar
  • C. Gao, M. Sands and J. R. Spletzer, “Towards Autonomous Wheelchair Systems in Urban Environments,” the 7th International Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR 2009), Cambridge, Massachusetts, July 2009
    Full text (PDF) – Google Scholar


This work was supported in part by National Science Foundation CAREER Award #0844585. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.




  • Chao Gao
  • Tim Perkins
  • Mike Pollock
  • Michael Sands