Ben Salter, University of Hertfordshire

BEN SALTER is taking a BSc in Motorsport with Management at Hertfordshire. A keen motorsport fan, Salter led a team of students at Hertfordshire that has achieved a potential breakthrough in driving experience for people who have no use of their legs. There is currently only a small range of systems available in the UK that allow paraplegics to drive vehicles using simple hand controls.

These basic systems do not allow motorists to drive to the best of their ability, a particular problem in motorsport where paraplegic drivers are increasingly interested in taking on their fully-able counterparts on level terms. Salter’s team of students worked with Marc Ellis, an experienced high-performance track driver who lost the use of his legs 15 years ago, to improve the hand controls in his BMW M3. Ellis currently uses a basic hand control system consisting of a push-pull handle connected to the brake and throttle pedals.

This requires him to constantly have one hand off the steering wheel, which is potentially dangerous. Salter led the team as it developed a new system based on drive-by-wire technology that could be mounted within the BMW’s standard steering wheel. To ensure its deadlines were met Salter planned the project, and organised track testing of the car. The result was a fully operational conceptual design that was praised by Ellis and the financier backing the project as a real breakthrough for disabled drivers, particularly in the performance and sports arena.

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