Manual Transmission Car Hand Controls

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We are a group of three mechanical engineers from San Francisco State University and here we would like to share our senior design project.

The goal of this project is to help paraplegics gain their independence and provide them with a convenient ability to drive cars with manual transmissions if so they choose or due to necessity. We have built a device that operates in conjunction with an already existing hand controls type of device used to drive automatic cars. It operates the clutch pedal through a steering wheel mounted lever a user controls with their hand. Theoretically, this device should be compatible with a wide range of manual cars, however, we only tested it on one. Additionally, it require no permanent modifications to the car, and it is easily installed and removed.


You can find out more information by visiting our website:

How it works

We will use this controls simulation stand to demonstrate how it works outside of a car.

Since the user will only have their two hands to operate all the controls with, they must be able to steer the car, control the clutch, brake and gas, as well as the gear stick. The way we chose to approach this is by having the left hand turn the steering wheel and control the clutch, while the right hand controls the gas, brake and the gear lever. Placing the clutch lever on the steering wheel permits the driver to maintain one hand on the wheel at all times.

With the right hand, the driver controls the gas and brake through a conventional hand controls device that is originally intended for automatic transmission cars. With their left thumb, they operate a spring loaded lever that relates the position of the lever to the position of the clutch. Pushing the clutch pedal are a pair of high speed linear actuators from Firgelli Automation mated to a linear potentiometer that reads their position.