A New Drive-by-Wire Technology for People with Disabilities and Industrial Applications
People with physical disabilities require adaptable systems to provide them with new reliable and easy to operate driving solutions, as they cannot drive using conventional car controls. They need an adaptation of standard production cars, which allows them to drive just as safe as a non-disabled driver.
Current car adaptation solutions are enabled by drive-by-wire technologies, which consist of man-machine-interfaces (MMIs) and electronic driving systems used to compensate disabilities. With this technology, the driver does not have to use conventional controls such as the steering wheel, instead, driving is facilitated by individually adapted MMIs like joysticks or handlebars. However, current adaptive devices are unable to match the performance of conventional controls. There can be technical problems as time lags between the execution of a control command -e.g. steering- and the actual vehicle reaction, interference between command actions -e.g. steering and gas-, etc. The car usually does not react according to the driver’s expectations, so that learning to drive an adapted car is difficult and requires a long time. Overcoming these issues, joysteer3.0 is a novel drive-by-wire system offering the best drivability, safety and reliability standards for steer, brake and gas, allowing people with a wide range of disabilities the operation of a car. Its high modularity together with its new remote GPS-based capabilities address a new market segment for safety-critical industrial applications.
Our business model will subsequently benefit from new revenue streams and our cost structure will be drastically improved. We have estimated that the successful accomplishment of this project will lead to an accumulated profit of €5.25M for the first 3 years of commercialization, which gives a ROI2021→2023=2.09. With an initial investment of €1.7M to bring joysteer3.0 to the market we forecast a payback time of 21 months.
Innovative steering system meets the needs of the disabled and autonomous driving
Current adaptable systems that enable people with physical disabilities to drive compare poorly with conventional vehicle controls like steering wheels. An EU initiative has addressed this challenge.
The physically impaired may be unable to drive cars with a standard steering wheel, depending on the type of disability, and need a customised input device like a joystick. These driving solutions are based on drive-by-wire technology that consists of man-machine interfaces (MMIs) and safe electronic driving systems. With drive-by-wire technology, the steering input is transformed entirely by hardware and software without the mechanical fallback of the steering column. Also, driving is facilitated by individually adapted MMIs like joysticks and handlebars.
Often, driving systems are unable to match the performance and feedback of conventional controls. Technical problems, such as time lag and interference between commands, also exist. The car doesn’t usually react exactly to the driver’s expectations, especially due to the missing active force feedback on the input device. As a result, learning to drive an adapted car is difficult and time consuming. These factors create a need for adaptable systems that can provide dependable and user-friendly driving solutions.
The EU-funded project www.joysteer.ch/ (Joysteer 3.0) “developed a novel drive-by-wire system offering the best driveability, safety and reliability standards to individuals with severe physical limitations,” says project coordinator Matthias Hell. “This enables people with a wide range of disabilities, such as muscle paralysis, and arm and leg malformations, to operate a car easily and safely.”
Thanks to the various individually adjustable control elements, the Joysteer 3.0 system offers more advantages than traditional vehicle steering aids. Handbrake, automatic gear changing, lights, indicators and windscreen wipers can be easily controlled with just one system and a small number of input devices.
Active force feedback and adaptable steering
Joysteer 3.0 is the only system with active and dynamic force feedback, providing a safe and relaxed driving experience as a result. This feature gives the driver full control of the vehicle from the start, in combination with the highest safety standards.
“The most significant achievements of the project included the elimination of the limitations in the previous version of the product,” continues Hell. “Being flexible on demand is crucial to the automotive market. Functions like remote access, remote service and data gathering were key factors in improving the product.”
Dual-redundancy systems for safety
Safety is the cornerstone of Joysteer 3.0. There are always two independent branches ensuring a full redundancy of steering and braking. At least one of the systems guarantees the continuity of safe operation and driveability, even in the case of a technical failure.
The drive-by-wire technology also serves as a basis for autonomous driving. This means there’s no steering column. Since there’s no driver anymore, the commands are given by a computer that’s responsible for the trajectories. Joysteer 3.0 transfers the GPS and sensor data to the wheels with minimum latencies and maximum dynamics.
“Joysteer’s high modularity addresses this new market segment for autonomous car applications,” concludes Hell. “The ultimate aim was to provide advanced, safe and validated solutions for people with disabilities and automated driving, and Joysteer 3.0 has achieved that.”