Aging is generally associated with a decrease in mobility and social interaction. A growing body of research suggests that reduced levels of out-of-home mobility can have widespread, detrimental effects for older adults. Adults for whom mobility is a problem suffer in a variety of ways. Not only are their social lives restricted but they are also more limited in terms of their access to good nutrition, leisure and other activities.
The DALi project pursues autonomous mobility through the development of the so-called c-walker. This mobility aid supports navigation in crowded and unstructured spaces by acquiring sensory information, by anticipating the intent of human agents and by deciding the path that minimizes the risk of accidents. The c-walker is aimed at providing physical, cognitive and emotional support to older adults in public environments such as shopping centers and airports.
In the context of the project we designed haptic interfaces that can effectively convey the information on the environment and on the planned route to the c-walker. In particular we developed the design of control strategies for the mechanical guidance support which allow to smoothly guide the assisted person avoiding as much as possible aggressive corrections of its trajectory. The goal is to control the c-walker to track precomputed paths while providing the user with haptic perception of the environment and of possible obstacles or unsafe areas. Moreover we realized prototypes of wearable haptic interfaces (vibrotactile bracelets) able to provide haptic feedback to the user.