Technology for blind people is advancing rapidly – recent new discoveries have been made that offer some degree of sight through a person’s tongue, but now imagine a car that can be driven, completely independently, by someone who has little or no sight.
The National Federation for the Blind (NFB) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, College of Engineering have teamed up to create this. The car uses ‘non-visual’ signals to tell the driver the location of obstacles, such as cars in other lanes, or cars to the rear or front. This means the car can actually be fully driven by a blind person, and doesn’t have to rely on a computer to do any of the thinking or decision making.
The vehicle is based on the chassis of a Ford Escape and was successfully navigated by a legally blind person, Mark Riccobono, around the Daytona Speedway earlier this year. He made all the corners, and avoided all the obstacles in his path – these included stationary ones that were set up before the lap, and ones that were thrown out of a van in front of him creating moving obstacles to avoid.
More details from the NFB here.