Hajime Uchiyama

Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2009

Hajime Uchiyama, a recent master of science graduate in artificial intelligence, is the primary architect of a “smart wheelchair.” Motivated by a blind wheelchair-bound freshman who had required a full-time attendant, usually her mother, to help her navigate the campus, Uchiyama analyzed the situation and proposed an alternative—that the wheelchair be fitted with sensors that glean information from the surrounding environment and with tactile devices to provide her with feedback. Following through, he developed a software platform for the wheelchair’s onboard computer in order to recognize and then circumvent the campus’s many routine obstacles, and he produced a laboratory prototype. Transcending wheelchairs, Uchiyama’s work is thought to be applicable to virtually any type of robot.