Paralyzed man drives a race car at Pikes Peak International Raceway using brain-controlled driving technology

German Aldana Zuniga never thought he'd drive a car after an accident rendered him paralyzed when he was 16. Thanks to new technology, he got that chance!
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 8:55 AM MDT
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FOUNTAIN, Colo. (KKTV) - A technology created for those who are disabled was showcased for the very first time. Wednesday, a paralyzed man drove a NASCAR race car around Pikes Peak International Raceway. This was possible thanks to a brain-controlled driving technology.

German Aldana Zuniga never thought he’d be able to drive a car--let alone an 850 horsepower NASCAR. That dream became a reality with technology from Falci Adaptive Motorsports.

“I don’t have no mobility below my waist. So this is my first time driving a car,” said Zuniga.

Zuniga is a research participant with Miami Project To Cure Paralysis. The technology was created for those with spinal cord injuries.

Zuniga was 16 when he became paralyzed after a car crash. Now, he’s controlling the throttle acceleration of the race car all with his mind.

“It’s unbelievable, like to think about being in a car, especially that fast. To be in it and to just watch how you go through the track smoothly and it responds to what you think. It’s just incredible,” said Zuniga.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Falci says Zuniga has a microchip implanted in his head that helps control movement.

“So he thinks I’m going to close my hand and even though he can’t, he thinks that and this electrode sensor sends a signal down a little cable that’s buried beneath his skin to a computer processor that’s also implanted in him,” said Dr. Falci.

Zuniga also wears a helmet that allows him to steer and brake by moving his head. Zuniga looks forward to all the possibilities this technology could create.

“Not only for me, but for other people with disabilities to drive a car, to use exercise equipment to better yourself and the hope is one day to walk again,” said Zuniga.

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