28thJune, 2023: Exciting things are happening at IIT Madras Research Park (IIT-M RP) this summer. A group of 50 starry-eyed engineering students from colleges across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala are spending two-and-a-half months at the innovation ecosystem working with senior engineers, faculty and mentors on technology solutions for social impact.
The students are in their 3rd and 4th years, from colleges such as Shri Vishnu Engineering College for Women (Bhimavaram, AP), BV Raju Institute of Technology (Telangana) Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TN), AvinashilingamUniversity for Women (TN).
Half of the student interns and around 20 mentors and experts from the research park are building an autonomous wheelchair that speaks to the user in a language of their choice, takes them around on guided tours, and acts as a personal concierge.
The project is part of IIT-M’s efforts to take their ‘building’ mindset to young college students across the country and create what they call more “Ranchos” (Aamir Khan’s character in 3 Idiots).The idea behind the autonomous wheel chair vehicle (AWCV) is to marry the principles of universal design, voice technology, and natural language processing to create a product that ensures equal access and opportunities for the differently-abled.
The AWCV comes equipped with a virtual guide to welcome visitors to the research park, interact with the visitors in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Indian sign language for the hearing impaired. The vehicle takes them through the innovation ecosystem, the companies incubated there, and the various centres of excellence housed. It also suggests routes with accessible ramps for the best experience. Work on AWCV commenced on May 15 and is a 11-week project.
Publication: Times of India
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