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Autonomous Vehicles, New Mobility & the Built Environment

The Supercharged Race Car Driver

Scott Falci is testing the bounds of the human-machine interface through the nonprofit he founded, Falci Adaptive Motorsports. The name describes what they do, as they are adapting race cars so they can be driven without using traditional controls. In one sense, what Falci and his team have done is like the hands-free control of a wheelchair; a wheelchair that races to 130 miles per hour.

It Started With a Used Corvette #

As background, Falci is an acclaimed neurosurgeon who recognized the desire of one of his paralyzed patients to drive a race car. This led to Falci’s purchase of and modification of a used Corvette that the patient successfully drove around a test track. Falci Adaptive Motorsports leverages partnerships with talented engineers and generous companies, such as Direen Tech and Knite, Inc., to multiply its impact and continue to improve its accessible race car concept.

One of the milestones was the creation of a race car that was memorialized in the 2016 award-winning documentary film, Reengineering Sam. The film tells the story of how Falci and his colleagues helped Sam Schmidt, a former IndyCar “Rookie of the Year”, return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway racetrack. Using only head movements, Schmidt drove around the Indy 500 track prior to that iconic race.

As Falci explains in the above video, their success has led to a partnership with multiple sponsors and supporters, including NASCAR. Furniture Row Racing donated two cars and the current car sports the Bass Pro Shops logo on the hood. It has been pre-race feature at NASCAR races, such as at the 2019 race at the Richmond Raceway.

From the Racetrack to a Better Everyday Experience #

Falci indicates that the drivers easily learned to drive a racecar since they were familiar with the interface from controlling their wheelchairs. He hints at other technologies, such as eye-tracking and missile lock from the military, as refinements to further improve the responsiveness of the vehicle. It is not difficult to imagine that, in the future, Falci Adaptive Motorsports’s work will result in improvements to mobility accessibility for everyday situations and not just the racetrack.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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