Over the past couple decades, self-driving cars have gone from being a sci fi concept to a reality, with semi-autonomous self driving cars now commercially available. Now the Singaporean government is working with businesses and health care agencies to create a self driving wheelchair by March 2017.
“What if we could make the wheelchair move on [its] own?” Mark Lim, Director of Government Digital Services asked at the Innovation Labs World convention. “There is a proper use case for it, because today we have limited health care workers… These nurses are more precious in doing their work, in taking care of the patients, than pushing them around in the wheelchair.”
In the not too distant future, Singapore may have hospitals full of self driving wheelchairs moving patients around to where they need to be, when they need to be there.
Singapore, like the US, South Korea, and Japan has a rapidly aging population due to people living longer and younger generations having fewer children. This means more people need health care services, but fewer people are available to perform them. As the tax base shrinks, there’s also less money available to pay health care workers. That’s why Singapore, along with many other countries, are pushing for more automation and other technological innovations within the healthcare industry.
In addition to the self driving wheelchair, Lim’s team is also working on a smart walking stick which can track where elders are, detect falls, and trigger alerts.