Panasonic's Made a Hospital Bed that Turns into a Motorised Wheelchair

By Holly Brockwell on at

From the Hall of Good Ideas (actually the Panasonic Robotics Hub in Japan) comes something that seems like a no-brainer in the best possible way: a hospital bed that automatically transforms into a motorised wheelchair.

The thrillingly-named Robotic Bed is decently wide and surprisingly comfortable, with the mattress split into two halves. The leftmost half becomes the seat of the wheelchair when the whole thing folds up and reassembles itself at the push of a button, ready to roll away.

Check out the left arm doing the classic smooth "I'm streeeetching, oh look, my arm is around you" cinema manoeuvre.

The transformation from bed to chair happens really smoothly and in a way that's designed not to cause pain or injury to people who have presumably got enough to deal with as it is. Our videos are at double speed for brevity, but it's actually pretty slow to avoid jarring movements.

Once it's in Chair Mode, you can drive the robotic bed around with a little joystick, and it's pretty intuitive to move. You can also tilt and recline it. Then, hit the bed button and just sit there casually until suddenly you're laying completely flat in your bed again, like being in the dentist's chair but without the sense of impending doom.

"I'm done with being awake. TAKE ME BACK TO BED"

The robotic bed is just a prototype at the moment, and sadly we can't imagine it's cheaper than the cost of a bed plus a wheelchair (especially at NHS standards, which essentially meant "made from cable ties and K'Nex" last time we were in A&E), but for well-funded medical facilities or people's homes, it's not only a space-saver – it also helps the person move themselves between bed and chair without the assistance of another person. And independence is a very positive thing indeed.

Honestly, we can see the appeal even for completely able-bodied people. Being able to drive around in your bed is pretty much a dream come true.

We've christened the robo-bed-chair Swaptimus Prime, but if you can do better, you know where the comments are.