Lukas drives his new Ford Tourneo Connect with the Space Drive driving and steering system and two joysticks - one for accelerator/brake and one for steering. But every now and then, someone else sits behind the steering wheel who doesn't need these input devices. Thanks to a resourceful solution from PARAVAN's technicians, this can be realized within a minute.
Lukas is mobile with his new Ford Tourneo Connect. Driving to work independently or spontaneously visiting friends was a dream of the 23-year-old that is now finally coming true. He has been dependent on a power wheelchair since elementary school - due to a neuromuscular disease. "This is a huge positive change in my life," Lukas says. "I no longer have to ask if someone can drive me or see if the bus has a ramp. Now I can do things spontaneously, like go somewhere right after work."
He was already looking forward to this in 2020, when he had just completed his training as an administrative assistant and was completing the practical part of his driving training at the PARAVAN driving school. After just three weeks of intensive driving training with driving instructor Horst Hilsenbeck, he was able to hold his driver's license in his hands. What followed was application and vehicle selection. "Almost everything will change," he said at the time, when asked about his expectations of his newfound mobility. He decided on a Ford Tourneo Connect. "Not too big and still enough seats so I can take someone with me sometimes," Lukas says. After another two and a half years, he can now drive out of the PARAVAN production hall in his own Ford, customized for him.
Like the driving school car, his new vehicle is equipped with the Space Drive driving and steering system. He will navigate the Ford with two joysticks. With his right hand he steers and with his left hand he operates the accelerator and brake. The special feature of this conversion; due to his handicap, the joysticks are placed close together directly in front of the steering wheel. "This way I can drive in a very relaxed way," he says. However, no one else can drive the vehicle like this without the input devices. "If I'm ever prevented from driving, someone else has to be able to drive as well - without a joystick at all." Then Lukas can also drive on the passenger side with his wheelchair.
The challenge for the PARAVAN technicians was to find a flexible solution. "Thanks to a removable mounting unit, the joysticks are now optimally positioned in front of the steering wheel for Lukas," explains PARAVAN customer consultant Joachim Glück. "It was important that the position always remains the same to ensure fatigue-free driving for Lukas and thus safety." The control units can be removed with a flick of the wrist. The connection to the Space Drive system is made by a special plug that is anchored in the center console: Plug it in, switch on Space Drive, run a system test, and the vehicle is set up completely individually for Lukas.
The administrative employee uses a PARAVAN PR 50 electric wheelchair as the driver's seat, with which he has already been on the road since 2020. He opens the car with a remote control and then drives over the underfloor ramp through the side door on the passenger side directly in front of the steering wheel. The PR 50 is securely anchored to the vehicle floor via the PARAVAN docking station. Via PARAVAN Touch, he starts his car and off he goes. A camera system - on the right and left sides of the vehicle ensures a safe overview, as Lukas simply cannot turn around. Lukas usually operates the turn signal, horn or sun visor via a bleeper, on which the most important 10 secondary functions can be called up by pressing a button, or he uses the integrated PARAVAN voice control.
The long driving break of two and a half years has not bothered Lukas. After the final adjustment, he familiarized himself with the new vehicle. "I got back into it faster than I thought. After ten minutes I was back in it," Lukas is pleased to report. "Then it was straight onto the road," reports driving instructor Horst Hilsenbeck. "A short adjustment to the new car and he had the technology fully under control again." He also immediately covered the distance from the PARAVAN mobility park toward Lake Constance himself. Now he no longer has to rely on the driving service when he goes to his job at the district office in Friedrichshafen, 13 kilometers away.