The Project is a Driving Simulator for Differently abled drivers who don’t have the use of arms or hands.
Nicky Abdinor has been born with PFFD and Phocomelia and in 2001, obtained her driver’s license at the traffic department in Stellenbosch. Her car is a donated vehicle from the UK. Although the Honda Civic was fitted with adaptations to drive, other adaptations were required before Nicky could drive. Nicky has her own practice as a Clinical Physiologist with a Masters degree and thus personal transportation played an important part in her studies and the development of her career because she had to travel between patients and the hospital (Nicky Abdinor, 2012).
The challenge for Nicky however is that she needs to replace her car and thus the adaptations need to be removed. A problem with removing the adaptations is that they were custom made to her 1995 Honda Civic and thus would not fit a different make and model car. There is also the technology viability factor to consider since her new car has a different steering system. In 2007 Nicky approached Prof Mugendi M’Rithaa who involved various other departments of Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Thus the project is approached as a collaborative project, the departments involved are Prof Mugendi M’Rithaa (Industrial Design), Prof Oscar Philander (AMTL TIA Technology Station) and Prof Simeon Davies (Sports Department). With the help of Nicky Abdinor student had the opportunity to within their respective disciplines get involved in a universal design project with the focus of enabling a user or a group of users for the better. The student involved are:
Gerhard Coetzee, (Industrial Design, Masters, Project leader)
Cyprian Onochy. ( Mechanical Engineer. Btech Student)
Mzikayise Mafilika ( Mechanical Engineer. Btech Student)
Stephen Hendricks ( Mechanical Engineer. Btech Student)
Leila Matavel (Mecatronics Diploma Student)
Romuald Kouami Tchamba (Mecatronics Diploma Student)
Luc Coetzer ( Mecatronics Diploma Student)
How does the design improve lives?
The Impact that the Project has is two fold. Since it is the first of its kind in Africa, the team is doing ground breaking research and Nicky, the user of the simulator, at this stage is involved in the technology and product development as an irreplaceable partner due to her belief that without a user to give input the simulator can’t be designed to function properly. Nicky represents differently-abled drivers thus the results and findings of the simulator will have an impact on the disabled driver community as well as give exposure to the students who are designing the simulator.