Drive a car? There's an app for that

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by KATE WEIDAW / KXAN

KING5.com

Posted on November 17, 2009 at 3:02 PM

It seems like there's an application for just about anything on an iPhone. But what about an application that would allow the iPhone to drive a car?
 

Some engineers at National Instruments have combined their love of remote control cars with iPhone technology and rigged a car to be controlled by the phone.

"The iPhone has an accelerometer on it, which means it can detect rotational motion," said Will Schoettler, an applications engineer with National Instruments. "And so whenever you turn the iPhone, it sends a different signal. And then, we can use the sliders on the iPhone app to control the gas or the brake."  

Wrenches hit the pedals, and a chain directs the steering wheel.

"I think we might have gotten up to 25- or 30 mph one time," said Schoettler. "We decided we want to keep it safe, so we usually keep it lower than that."

Of course, they use the word "safe" loosely.

"When we're driving with the iPhone, we like to drive it on the roof of the car. That seems to be the most fun, or the hood," said Schoettler. "It gets the wind blowing in your hair. That's a lot of fun."

It's been so much fun that their YouTube video has gotten almost a half-million hits, and they said they hope that others will take their technology and run with it.

"What I'm really hoping for is that someone thinks this is a really great idea, picks up the plans and maybe turns it into something people can use in a standard industry," said Schoettler.

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