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Emirati students invent foot-based navigation system for a car

posted on 30/10/2013: 3638 views

Three Emirati students have invented a new system that allows a disabled person to drive a vehicle using the feet, saying the system is the first of its kind in the world.

A US patent for the innovative foot-based vehicle navigation system has been secured and efforts are under way to get it patented from Japan, China and the European Union, said an official of the UAE University (UAEU).

The system has been designed to enable people with upper torso disabilities to still be able to operate a vehicle, without using arms, by using the foot-based navigation system. The system has three levers on the floor of the car, each lever working independently, said the official.

Professor Reyadh Al Mehaideb, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies at the UAEU, said this invention was originally the idea of an Emirati female student Reem Al Marzouqi. This special car, he said, is thought to be a future project for the students of the College of Engineering, who will be able to make positive contributions to it.

The team of the researchers include Reem, a student at the Architectural Engineering Department, Hazim Waleed and Hussam Haboush, students from the Mechanical Engineering Department. The project was supervised by Professor Yousuf Haik.

Talking about the idea behind the invention, Reem said it was just a simple idea at the beginning for a course project. "I've always thought about the American pilot Jessica Cox who flew a plane without arms and how she was able to adapt to her disability,” she said.

The idea, she said, came to help people like Jessica to drive cars. "I had the opportunity to contact Jessica who explained that she is suffering from problems in driving a car using her feet and she expressed her need to have a special car for her disability,” said Reem.

Jessica also expressed her sadness about a complaint filed against her by her neighbour for driving a normal car with her disability which may cause a risk to them. Jessica said that when she drives a normal car with her feet she feels pain in her back and a numbness in her toes and she can't drive for long hours. "She wished a solution could be found,” said Reem.

While working on the project, Reem asked for the assistance of two students from the Mechanical Engineering Department with the supervision of a faculty member as well as the financial and technical support of the College of Engineering, the Office of Patent at UAEU and the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee.

She said the car fitted with the system is not only beneficial for those with disabilities but can also be used in peace-keeping operations, industrial situations where the driver is required to use hands for other operations, or for military exercises.

Dr Haik, professor at the College of Engineering, said Reem has realised the difficulty faced by people who suffer from either temporary or permanent disability. She has provided them with an option to drive with a steering lever, acceleration lever and a brake lever to enable the car to be controlled solely with the driver's feet with a high level of control and flexibility.

"The machine was tested in a parking area and the results were interesting and encouraging,” he added. – Gulf News


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