Device lets disabled people drive with one hand
By Ben Coxworth
June 17, 2011
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.