In recent decades, the field of robotics has advanced from science fiction to practical industrial use. Nobody is surprised when they visit a modern factory and they see a robot doing much of the repetitive and specialised work. However, it is only relatively recently that robots are becoming mainstream in homes. The Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner is popular-but often more for its novelty value among geeky owners than for its really practical usefulness.
I was very impressed to see a recent proposal from a small company names Matia Robotics for a robot which effectively replaces a wheelchair. I think this is a very practical use that many people would be willing to spend money on.
The following video explains the details of the device. I don't really know any more about it other than what is contained in the video, but apparently it looks like a major improvement over a conventional wheelchair for people suffering from spinal cord injuries.
They have a FAQ page on their site which answers many questions that people might have. They are not shipping units yet, but they are taking advance bookings which are expected to ship before the end of 2013 and will cost about US$15,000.
I know that this is quite a hefty price, especially when compared with manual chair (prices counted in the low numbers of hundreds of dollars) - but it is probably fairer to compare this with a motorized wheelchair whose price would already be counted in the low thousands. Hopefully the price will comedown considerably once the large volume manufacturing starts.