back to article Japan gives the wheelchair a hi-tech overhaul

A Japanese firm has developed a hi-tech wheelchair that's able to avoid obstacles and find its way around - while being more comfortable for the passenger. RODEM_02 Rodem: a sort of high-tech wheelchair getting around on Pictures: TechOn Rodem – roughly translated as Robot for Enjoying Mobility, TechOn reports - is a …


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  1. Alan B

    Not exactly the best design...

    ...for people with back or hip problems. No back support at all, so many elderly and/or disabled will simply fall off.

    Then there is the problem of people who can't walk at all. From a normal chair, you can get them to an upright position, then sit them down into a conventional wheelchair. How are you supposed to safely and comfortably move them forward onto the seat on this machine? It would be much the same as trying to sit them on a small motorcycle.

  2. Graham Marsden

    @Alan B

    "Not exactly the best design..."

    So how about, duh... not selling it to people who would have problems using it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good luck

    getting my mates mother-in-law on that, it'll collapse.

  4. Dr. Mouse

    I hope I'm the first,

    But I know I won't be the only one to be claiming for a new keyboard after reading:

    "riders mount Rodem from behind"

  5. Michael C

    no back support

    Yup, agree with 1st poster. Might be comfortable to ride, but for people relegated to a wheelchair, sitting up all day is a struggle, and leaning back for a rest is a requirement. Leaning forward provides no neck support, and is also not exactly the most confortable for the female riders. Further, that SEAT is not going to be good news to be on for a long day sitting in it, and it also completely ignores anyone who might be in a wheelchair due to a leg injury (aka, leg in a cast, hip in a cast, etc, typically cast as a straign, not bent, leg).

  6. Winkypop Silver badge


    I agree with Alan B, this looks like FAIL writ large for the large proportion of traditional Wheel Chair users.

    It's almost as the designers forgot about the rider....

    Maybe it would make a good TV show: Super-hyped Chair Wars!!

  7. Thomas 18

    Pretty but,

    don't accelerate too quickly...

    Looks a bit like those kneel seats ( which while great in theory are about as comfy as a bed of nails (actually less so those are quite relaxing)

  8. brym

    Terrible idea

    As Alan suggested, where's the back support? What's to stop users falling off when it automatically handled slopes, or turns to avoid running grandchildren? Also consider the price difference. £67 for a freely delivered wheelchair with back support, or £4500 for something which has no back support, and a battery that could run out going up hill.

    Well intended, no doubt. But fail.

  9. Pyros
    Thumb Up

    Looks suspiciously like Prof. X's hoverchair.

    Just turn the seating around and paint it yellow...

    Still, it's a good one-revolution-of-the-wheel towards a better motorized wheelchair that doesn't look like it belonged on the set of The Lawnmower Man.

  10. Hombre sin nombre

    Good thing it has automatic controls for going up slopes

    Because by the looks of it, the rider will too busy hanging on for dear life on anything steeper than 10 degrees.

    Also, what if you intend to run into small children? Can you turn the avoidance system off?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Top Gear

    Is this the one that was on Top Gear a couple of years ago? The one where Richard Hammond went to Japan and made fun of it. It even has an in-built GSM module that alerts you to other users/drivers in the area and lets you all meet up for coffee!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    epic fail

    forget about leaning back and dozing. a back rest is required.

  13. Nate Phillips

    @Alan B

    Agreed. This thing reeks of "I broke my leg and hated my wheelchair. I wish my wheelchair was cooler."

    Lack of back support was my first thought, too.

    Plus, if this thing can't scrape the shins of children, what's the poor invalid grandmother going to do when those little hellions come over for their annual forced visitation?

  14. FreeTard
    Thumb Up

    No way anyone would fall off the back

    ....coz old people are really good at balance and stuff.

    Still, that kid seems to think its a laugh, so it's not that bad.

  15. LoPath
    Black Helicopters


    Coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you...

  16. A 11

    Breathing problems

    I'd be concerned about putting weight onto the chest for long periods in elderly people.

  17. raving angry loony


    Until they give the "wheel"chair the ability to climb stairs or negotiate rough terrain, and NOT require that the entire world be paved to allow "handicap access", then it's still the same fucking thing they invented in 1300 BC.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like the seat adjusts

    It looks like the entire seat assembly lowers down, so people do not need to step up and straddle the seat like a motorcycle. They just need to be able to stand a bit with their legs spread; the seat is lowered, the device moved back and the seat raised until the person can just sit on the seat.

    And back support would be easy enough to add on if needed.

  19. Player_16

    @ Alan B - Agree.

    I'm wondering if you hit an immovable object and your MID-section slides forward... ouch!

    Will I be able to hook up my iPod or GPS to it? Put some spinners on it? The colour's shit-house. Do it up.

  20. Serenity

    @Top Gear

    The one from Top Gear was built by Toyota and, despite being silly, was far more useful and well designed than this.

  21. Anonymous John


    If Davros had had one, the Daleks would have looked totally different.

  22. Big Pete


    So how do you sit at a table to eat in it.

  23. Lionel Baden

    voice control ??!!

    so when a mugger saiz stop you have no choice LOL

  24. Marvin the Martian

    Wheelchair ergonomics experts

    Wow, didn't know ElReg harboured so many armchair experts in wheelchair ergonomics.

    With a strong tradition in research and heaps of phd's around, you'd expect Japan to do better than the commenters here but oh no, they've seen it at a snap and understood its failures.

    Just because it doesn't resemble the wheelchairs you've been using lately?


    That said, the flashy "aerodynamical" design is a bit silly in this context. Though not an actual disadvantage.

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