From Roland Piquepaille's blog comes news on the future of robot wheelchairs. Traditional wheelchairs have limited functions and flexibility. Their users often need help from nurses or relatives. Several teams are working on robotic wheelchairs to overcome these limitations. For example, researchers from the University of Essex Human Centred Robotics Group and the Institute of Automation in Beijing are developing RoboChair, which is equipped with vision and 3G wireless communication. It will be able to avoid collisions and plan a path. Meanwhile, Professor Ray Jarvis of Monash University's Intelligent Robotics Centre in Australia, is building another robotic wheelchair (PDF format) which will help people to travel off the beaten track. His prototype combines robotic navigation with four-wheel drive. It automatically adapts itself to the user's capabilities and takes control when needed. And we can't forget to mention Dean Kamen's iBOT.