Joystick controlled driving for drivers with disabilities. A simulator driving experiment

  • Published: Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 2005
  • Authors: B. Peters and J. Ostlund
  • Date Added: 14 Feb 2013
  • Last Update: 28 Oct 2016
  • Format: html


Investigation of alternative joy stick designs on vehicles adapted for drivers with severe disabilities, in order to establish ease of learning, ease of use and degree to which the adaptation compensates for the disability.


Simulator study of 16 individuals with disabilities, experienced in driving but inexperienced in joystick use. Four joystick systems were trialled – interface between lateral and longitudinal control (coupled / de-coupled) and force feedback (active / passive).

Key Findings:

  • There was a large variation in data with few significant differences between the systems.

  • Decoupling of lateral and longitudinal control at least partly provided better control and less workload.

  • Reaction to feedback forces appears to be dependent upon degree of arm and hand function and should be calibrated to the individual.

  • The reduction of time lags (between joystick operation and vehicle response) enhanced learning, but decoupling and active feedback did not.

  • A manoeuvre test should be included in evaluation of adaptations as a good indicator of success.


Disabled drivers, adapted vehicles, joystick systems.


A useful insight into vehicle control systems for individuals with severe mobility impairment. The sample size is small, but was constricted by the small applicable section of the driving population. The results also demonstrate the difficulty of generalising regarding vehicle adaptations – that these are best matched to the individual.