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This new driving system allows people with disabilities to drive solely with their hands

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The modified MX-30 Self-empowerment SUV allows people with disabilities to drive solely with their hands
The modified MX-30 Self-empowerment SUV allows people with disabilities to drive solely with their hands   -   Copyright  NHK News via EBU
By Marie Lecoq  & EBU

People with disabilities affecting their lower body will be able to drive with just their hands thanks to a new system set to be released in January.

Japanese automaker Mazda is launching a hands-controlled driving system that can be fitted in one of their latest SUVs.

Mazda has already started to take orders for the modified MX-30 Self-empowerment SUV, which comes in hybrid and electric versions.

Using only controls with their hands, drivers can accelerate the car by pressing an inner ring on the steering wheel and brake using a lever on the left.

Other drivers can continue to control the car using the regular pedals.

"We really want people with disabilities to enjoy driving. This also means they can take turns with their families and friends," said Mazda Motor's Matsuyama Masaaki.

The MX-30 model also includes a board that folds out to help wheelchair users manoeuvre into the driver's seat.

Mazda, which is part of The Valuable 500, a global business collective made up of 500 CEOs innovating together for disability, was the first Japanese manufacturer to launch a wheelchair-accessible transport vehicle in 1995.

Another Japanese automaker, Honda, is already selling a hands-free vehicle for people with upper-body disabilities.

The driver can use pedals on the floor to steer the car and shift gears, while the turn signals are operated by a button. The accelerator and brake pedal operate as usual.

The MX-30 Self-empowerment modifications are set to be released in January at a price tag of about $4,600(€4,000).

For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.

Video editor • Marie Lecoq