Joystick-controlled cars for drivers with severe disabilities

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Joakim Östlund

This report was commissioned by the Vehicle Standards Division of the Swedish National Road Administration and is included in the project ”Joystick-controlled vehicles for drivers with disabilities”. The aim of the report is to describe and analyse commercially available joystick systems in Sweden. Furthermore, general considerations to be taken in the design of alternative primary levers (for driving) are emphasised.

A small group of people with severe disabilities regain an essential part of their mobility thanks to joystick-operated cars. People currently requiring joystick-operated cars have disabilities resulting in limited mobility and/ or strength in arms and legs.

A joystick includes accelerator, brake pedal and steering wheel in one lever. The analysed joystick systems have a joystick with spring-feedback and do not have the mechanical connection with the steering wheels and brake system. The result is that much information fed back to the driver in a conventional car by means of steering wheel and pedals is lost. Since the joystick is designed as a lever, fastened at one point and with two control directions, lateral and longitudinal controls may interfere. Further shortcomings can be identified for joystick-operated cars but their influence on traffic safety is difficult to decide.

Information and knowledge have been gathered to the knowledge survey through literature studies in the field and contacts with vehicle adapters, driving license instructors and drivers with disabilities.

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