Our power wheelchair is getting smarter and smarter – here’s why
While our BRO-Drivers are out and about with their BROs, their power wheelchairs are getting increasingly smarter and «learning» new functions. Software developers Mischa and Ian explain how it works.
Software updates make it possible for new functions to be added to our power wheelchairs on an ongoing basis. We have just finalised «Droideka», the latest software update, and sent it to our BRO-Drivers. The software, the very heart of our BRO, can be easily updated by our BRO-Drivers via the app. But what happens before that?
Have you wondered why the update is called «Droideka»?
We name all our wheelchair updates after Star Wars characters, in alphabetical order. This latest update is called «Droideka». The next one, which is planned for November, is called «Ewok».
Conversation with software developers
Mischa and Ian, software developers at Scewo, explain what happens behind closed doors before the innovations reach the customer.
So what does the process of updating the software involve from conception until it is available to our BRO-Drivers on their wheelchairs?
Mischa: Everyone using BRO, be it BRO-Drivers, staff or anyone else who is interested, can share their input and ideas with us. We prioritise these according to relevance and feasibility. Once we have decided what we can implement, we draw up a time schedule. Then it’s time to implement the individual functions or modifications. Once this is implemented in the code, extensive testing takes place. This is how we ensure that the safety of our BRO-Drivers is always guaranteed. The resulting software update is then sent to the BRO-Drivers and the process begins anew.
Ian: Our BRO-Drivers, for example, told us that they would appreciate a more stable parking position. We have now implemented this in the latest software update. First, I had to see which parts of the software were affected and where I had to tweak the code. Next step is the implementation. This involves making adjustments, testing and making even more adjustments until everything works. That is followed by internal testing until all tests have been passed according to the specified criteria.
What is the biggest benefit of the new software update for our BRO-Drivers in your opinion?
Ian: Some BRO-Drivers requested that the joystick sensitivity is no longer linked to speed. Until now, it was not possible to reach full speed when the joystick sensitivity was only at 80 %. We were now able to implement this.
Mischa: In general, it can also be said that we have been able to enhance safety. The Anti-Tip-System, for example, protects you from tipping backwards in even more situations. And then there is of course the new parking position, which ensures greater safety when travelling by train, among other things.
Is there anything you would do differently in the next update?
Mischa: At the moment, we are still prioritising and deciding what to implement and how. In the future we would like to involve our BRO-Drivers more actively in the process. This way, we can check directly with them whether the solutions are right for them.
Ian: One idea, for example, would be to send a near final version to a few BRO-Drivers for testing, who could then give us feedback before we make the update available to everyone.