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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 9 (2012), Issue 1, Pages 69-83

Mobility Assistance for Older People

Daniel Eck,1 Klaus Schilling,1 Ahmad Abdul-Majeed,2 Jörn Thielecke,2 Phillipp Richter,3 Javier Gutiérrez Boronat,3 Irina Schens,4 Bernd Thomas,4 Bettina Williger,5 and Frieder R. Lang5

1Computer Science VII, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
2Department of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Engineering, LIKE, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany
3Power Efficient Systems Department, Fraunhofer Institute IIS, Nuremberg, Germany
4R&D Pre-Development, NAVIGON AG, Würzburg, Germany
5Institute of Psychogerontology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany

Copyright © 2012 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper describes the development of a scooter supporting the mobility of older people. The scooter is equipped with a drive assistance system and a special scooter navigation system. The drive assistance system consists of a velocity controller, a steering controller, and a collision avoidance system. In this paper it is demonstrated how the challenging control and steering tasks are modified to increase safety for older people. A special scooter navigation system is presented, to support elderly people in navigating on a safe route through the city using sidewalks, pedestrian lights and crosswalks. For extended positioning requirements a hybrid positioning system was developed combining GPS, WLAN, and inertial sensor data. By combination of these technical improvements it is demonstrated how older people are able to preserve their self-determined and independent life. Usability research was done with focus groups in order to become familiar with global user demands and expectations towards a mobility assistance system. Results show that the system components are expected to assist the user in navigation, steering and speed control rather than to take complete control on the driving situation.