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Device lets disabled people drive with one hand


June 17, 2011

A prototype driving device allows disabled people to steer, accelerate, change gears and brake with one hand (Photo: FICOSA International S.A.)

A prototype driving device allows disabled people to steer, accelerate, change gears and brake with one hand (Photo: FICOSA International S.A.)

Your driving instructor probably told you to always keep two hands on the wheel, and your feet ready at the pedals. For people lacking the use of one or more upper or lower limbs, however, this isn't always possible. Such people shouldn't be precluded from driving, but they shouldn't have to worry about not being able to fully control their car, either. While there are some solutions that can be applied to existing steering wheels and pedals, a group of Spanish researchers have come up with something else - a single device that allows drivers to steer, accelerate, change gears and brake with one hand.

The prototype was created by Asociación RUVID, a consortium of five Spanish research institutes and companies.

Because many of its users might have reduced strength in the hand operating the device, it is completely electronically controlled - no mechanics are involved. Because drivers are used to the haptic feedback provided naturally by a mechanical steering wheel, however, motors have been added to the device to simulate those sensations.

The ease with which the device is operated can also be adjusted, to meet the limitations of individual users.

One of the RUVID members, the Institute of Biomechanics of Valencia, recently presented the prototype at the 13th EAEC European Automotive Congress, in Spain.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Please tell me I\'m having a nightmare. . .

Dear God! This is EXACTLY the opposite direction we [in America, anyway] need to go in!!!

I want to rid the highways of poor drivers, but someone\'s working on ways to get not just bad drivers, but literally LAME drivers on the road?

David Donovan

Mr. Donovan,

Dear GOD!, you are the exact type of people that we disabled folks are constantly fighting. What makes someone who had his arm blown off, or someone born without an arm a poor driver? One has nothing to do with the other. If you happened to burn your hand and couldn\'t use it for a few weeks, would that all of a sudden make you a poor driver? Please support your fellow humans rather than ignorantly discard the disabled as dumb and lame.


Clearly David Donovan has never watched the paralympics, or he\'d realise that loss of a limb does not reduce reaction times, skill or judgement. Would Mr Donovan also like to see our returned injured Servicemen off the streets? I\'d like to thank Gizmag for highlighting an excellent assistive technology that will make our roads safer and provide better mobility for those unfortunate enough to suffer a physical injury.

Jerry Everard

I\'d be willing to wager that Mr. Donovan has quite a few all or nothing opinions about people. A physical disability does not make one a bad driver. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while talking on a cell phone or blatantly ignoring the rules of the road makes for bad drivers.

Benny Wallace II

My point, so fine and so excellent, is that our roadways are clogged from lame drivers.

I am not worried about potentially excellent (probably young) amputee drivers.

I am saying this is going to enable lame drivers from among the pathetic hoards who are always pursuing fairness instead of excellence.


A joystick drive by wire is not new, I read about a factory prototype that had one decades ago, but I would love to see one get into production.


And why should this just be used by the disabled. Could be the way to go for future vehicles


It looks like a ride on sex machine.

Mr Stiffy

My late wife would have loved this, had it been available. She always wanted the freedom of driving but found the add-on devices to enable her to at the time were too cumbersome, expensive or both. One thing sure: her only deficiency was physical; she was a near genius, mentally. I was always astounded at the things she was able to acomplish. As for people like Mr. Donovan, she had little use for such and often said that the worst handicaps were not physical or even mental, but the defects in character and compassion and understanding. Her handicap did not make her suffer as much as the Donovans of the world.

Neil Larkins

I have two questions for Mr. Donovan aka Richard Cranium:

What do you propose that we should do with these disabled people who seem to be such a hindrance to you? Should we exterminate them, just like old Mr. Hitler did?

Have you ever considered that you or a family member may some day become disabled through e.g. a stroke, diabetes or maybe an accident or damage at birth by negligent doctors/nurses?


Trike-Flyer your comment of Mr Donovan\'s alias being Richard Cranium made my day! I presently use a hand-held device to control acceleration and brake and welcome this new arrival. When I started using the hand-held device I immediately noticed that my reaction times are much faster. I think everyone should use them, as my experience has been very positive since the loss of the use of my leg.

R Bruce Macdonald

this is gold to us cripples!! bring it to NZ!

James Forsyth

Mr Donavan (assuming that is your real name....)

In the abstract, I agree with you about getting the bad drivers off the road. I would require a 90% or better on the driving test.

However, you make an assumption that is not backed up by reality. You committed the most basic of logical errors:

Remember - you belong to the \"temporarily able\" (as the politically correct like to say). This can be fixed, although you would need to do it yourself, either by direct means (a chop saw works quite well), or by default (wait long enough). Or, drive a motorcycle.

Come up with real numbers, if you can, on the relative safe driving stats for different groups. Back them up with sites. BTW - the NTSB found that the safest drivers are LSD dealers - lowest accidents and tickets. Using your logic, we should all become LSD dealers. (I will not get into the reasons why the War On Drugs is bad; this is not the forum for that discussion - just look at and

A buddy of mine created a similar device from a motorcycle handlebar on the shifter to shift his toyota truck - twist the handle for the clutch; shift gears, let out the clutch. BTW - he had one leg after a motorcycle accident (apparently a popular thing to do), after which he took up skiing and became one of the top crip skiers in the world.

Read up on Douglas Bader - a WWII RAF flier without feet. I dare you. I double dog dare you (maniacal laugh!!!)

BTW - my name is \"bandit\" for a reason - ever see a slot machine? I also happen to be an engineer && build houses for a hobby - single handedly.

cool device.


In 1982 I accidentally managed to chop my left kneecap with a chainsaw. While I didn\'t lose the leg, I did go through the skin (7 Stitches) and place a groove into the bone. My leg was bandaged up to the point that I could hardly bend it.

To get home that night I had to drive my truck about 20 miles. It is a stick shift. IT WASN\'T A FUN PROCESS. If this item had been on my truck I would have been able to have gotten home with no problems. As it was it took me about twice as long to get home.

Mr. Donovan (?), while I don\'t really want you or anyone else to get hurt, It would serve you right to have to be in a position where you couldn\'t use one or more of your limbs for awhile.


An ergotherapist told me about this device and I'm so interested to learn more. I was assaulted about 3 years ago and was left with a permanently disabled right hand. The attacker had broken a bone in my right hand in half and even after surgery my hand is preventing me from driving and doing countless other things.

I am in no way an incompetent person and would certainly be a good and safe driver, but the chronic pain and disability are just debilitating. I'm really happy to learn that there are devices like this available to help people like me.


Is that device available on the market yet or is it still prototype?

Rowland Tang
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