Microchip Implant Allows Paralyzed Man to Drive a NASCAR
With technology growing and evolving every day, there have been great advancements in medical tech that will allow certain handicapped individuals to have a bit more normalcy in their lives. Thanks to a microchip implanted in his brain, German Aldana Zuniga, a quadriplegic, was able to drive an 850-horsepower NASCAR around a track using only his mind.
German was in a car accident when he was 16 years old where he received a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. “You have frustrations because you’re used to being independent,” says German. After he was able to experience driving a NASCAR completely on his own, German says, “It was amazing. It’s something you can’t imagine. You have to live it.”
Using an electrode implanted on the surface of German’s brain, along with a specialized helmet, German was able to successfully operate the NASCAR’s throttle using only his brain waves. “So anytime our driver, German, thinks ‘throttle on’ the computers and the algorithm know to send it to the throttle of the car,” says Dr. Scott Falci of Falci Adaptive Motorsports.
“If we can get somebody to perform all of the aspects of a racecar: throttle, brakes, steer right, steer left, we can apply that to any system,” adds Falci.
“I did not think I would drive a car. It didn’t cross my mind, you know? But driving it myself and seeing what I can do… the fear just went away. It felt great,” says Zuniga.
What this means is that this technology could have a wide range of real-life uses, like operating electric wheelchairs, controlling robotic arms, exoskeletons, and more.