Paralyzed man uses microchip in his brain to drive car

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 11:03 AM EDT
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DENVER (KCNC) - A paralyzed man in Colorado can now drive a car by using a microchip in his brain.

At Pikes Peak International Raceway, high speeds and hard turns are nothing out of the ordinary. Neither are the skills and intense focus required to make it out unscathed.

“It’s an amazing experience,” German Aldana Zuniga said.

Zuniga made it all look effortless despite not touching the throttle a single time.

“Since my accident, I don’t have no mobility below my waist, so this is my first time driving the car,” he said.

Nine years after a life-altering car wreck, Zuniga is using his thoughts to drive.

It’s a technological breakthrough pioneered by a team led by Colorado neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Fauci.

“We’re really proud of what he’s done,” Fauci said.

For more than a year, the group has worked with Zuniga so he can communicate between a microchip on his brain and a computer in the car.

“The computer can pick that up, that particular electronic fingerprint, and feed that to the race car,” Fauci said.

Zuniga can now use his mind to move the car and a specialized helmet to steer it.

A task that was once unthinkable is now possible with focus and practice.

“To be in it and just watch how you go through the track smoothly, and it responds to what you think. It’s just incredible,” Zuniga said.

So too, are the possibilities for this technology.

“We can use this potentially for driving an electric wheelchair, a golf cart, control a robotic arm,” Fauci said. “Once we develop that science, that science can be used for all types of systems.”

It’s a finish line Zuniga can’t wait to help cross.

“Technology is advancing. So, we’ve got to help put our part in it, and make it become available for everyone in future,” he said.

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