Home Design for Mobility and Robots too!

You might be wondering what you need to do in your own home environment to accommodate the benefits of robot use. There are steps you can take to prepare your own home when the virtual doctor comes to visit. The following are some key considerations:
• The robot can drive itself up a 1 inch rise by 12 inch run slope ramp. This ramp is the steepest allowed by the ADA. It can drive from a drop off point into the building.
• The VGo robot moves similar to a center drive wheelchair, it has a minimal 15 inch turn diameter. Size at the base is 13 x 15 inches.
• It can roll over a 1" threshold. Its ability to negotiate minimum floor variations accommodates varying floor surfaces.
• A non-slip solid surface floor or low pile closed loop carpet no deeper than ¼" is best.
• Good lighting with no or low glare will make it easier to see the 6 inch LCD screen.
• Because VGo “hears,” like any other conversation, the less background "noise" there is, the easier it will be for the distant user/controller to hear a private conversation.
• VGo recognizes large objects, and therefore will not run into walls and furniture. It will be easier (and safer) for the user to operate when clutter is removed.
• Keep the area in front of the charging station free and clear of clutter or other objects. The VGo can locate and then roll to, and find its home docking and charging system all by itself, so a clear, clutter free access route needs to be provided so it can get to its dock.
• It weighs only 22 pounds with a 12 hour battery and 18 pounds with a 6 hour operating battery. There are no floor load concerns

because it is so light.
• Consider what is at your back when a robot is viewing you. Think of it as filming a video: many of the same procedures apply when communicating through the virtual avatar.
• A home internet router can be used but if not available, VGo has an embedded Verizon 4G LTE sim card so it can connect to a cellular network.

Users say that the single, most empowering part of using VGo is that they are autonomous and independent in the remote location. Bern Terry, a spokesperson for VGo communications says he has heard children exclaim: “Look Mommy I’m walking, I can walk.” That surely sounds like real virtual mobility to me. •

Charles M. Schwab is an Architect specializing in fully accessible and universal design homes for over 20 years. It was after his grandfather suffered a series of strokes in 1992 that he realized that most American homes do not meet the needs of those with mobility needs. In 2005 he completing his first accessible home plan book, Universal Design Smart Homes for the 21st Century, 102 plans you can order and build. He designs accessible and universal design home remodels, additions and new homes throughout the USA and Canada. He contributes to many access magazines and has started a new design blog. His new book Child Access Bed and Bath is written and designed to be easy to read, cost and time friendly and jargon free, It will be useful to families after injury or disease resulting in the need to use mobility aids at home. It will be helpful to therapists, architects and designers alike. For further info. contact CharlesSchwab@UniversalDesignOnline.com