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New Technology Allows Spinal Cord Patients to Drive a NASCAR Race Car

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Paraplegic Janette Lawler preparing to pilot a specially equipped Corvette.

A NASCAR racing vehicle was specially modified to allow it to be piloted by a paraplegic.

Credit: John Smallwood

Falci Adaptive Motorsports founder Scott Falci worked with Ball Aerospace & Technologies and Arrow Electronics to develop an adaptive Corvette that can be driven by quadriplegics.

Falci also worked with car builders in Colorado to develop a similar car for paraplegics, and with Furniture Row Racing to develop a NASCAR version that relies on the same technology.

All of the adaptive race cars require the user to wear a specialized helmet equipped with an accelerometer that detects head movement relative to the car. The cars have cameras that follow the movement of the helmet, which fine-tunes the steering by the accelerometers.

The helmet also has a straw to control speed and braking; when puffed into, the straw engages the accelerometer and moves the car forward. Decreasing the puff decelerates, and a sipping action engages the brakes.

The data from the accelerometers, cameras, and straw are fed into a computer that actuates the braking and steering into a smooth ride.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer
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