Those who need assisted transport have few options for getting around city sidewalks beyond a wheelchair. Hitachi thinks its ROPITS (Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport System) could provide a slicker approach -- and make those of us on foot rather jealous, quite frankly. Steering the single-seater is just a matter of picking a destination on a smartphone or a tablet and letting the pathfinding system figure out the rest. The robot can even come to the owner, if that's too much of a trek. ROPITS won't be much of a risk to pedestrians at a 3.7MPH traveling speed, but it should be a good citizen with both a stereo camera and laser rangefinders to avoid collisions and gauge its position better than GPS alone. If Hitachi's ongoing testing proves the viability of the concept, we may never have to worry about how we'll get around the neighborhood.
[Image credit: Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, YouTube]
Source:Hitachi (PDF, translated)