Researchers Building High-Tech Car for the Blind

Comedians often make cracks at banks for including Braille on drive-through ATMs (there are number of valid reasons why they do this), but given the progress made by researchers at The National Federation of the Blind and Virginia Tech, don't assume that the driver in front of you isn't actually visually impaired.

While it may seem an unlikely scenario, the researchers are ever closer to developing a car for the blind, and in fact plan to demonstrate a prototype vehicle next year that will help those who can't see be able to drive. That's because it will come equipped with technology called "nonvisual interfaces," which use sensors to help a blind driver weave in and out of traffic and other surroundings based on information transmitted to him or her.

"We're exploring areas that have previously been regarded as unexplorable," said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation for the Blind. "We're moving away from the theory that blindness ends the capacity of human beings to make contributions to society."

While advocates for the blind consider the prospect a long shot at best, researchers hope their demonstration will challenge that notion. The demo will take place on a course near the Daytona race track, though a driver has not yet been selected.

"Some people thought I was crazy and they thought, 'Why do you want us to raise money for something that can't be done?' Others though it was a great idea," Maurer added. "Some people were incredulous. Others thought the idea was incredible."

What do you think about the project? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.
Via:  Yahoo News
Mike Coyne 4 years ago

I think it is great idea. It give the blind people a some freedom what they want to do. I am support most of those same thing with deaf people not blind or blind. Who know? I know most the high technology had changed over years to make improved.

3vi1 4 years ago

Seems like a waste of time to me. Much more money and technology is being poured into making cars that will drive themselves - and they're much more likely to be approved for market first.

I have my doubts that you can simplify all of the inputs to the point where a blind person can safely operate a vehicle in normal traffic. Even if you could, why include an unreliable organic relay in the loop instead of wiring the sensors directly to the car?

AKwyn 4 years ago

3vi1's right. I don't see what's so special about this car anyway. The cars that can drive themselves are sure to help people get to their destination better then this thing since it requires no input of the driver. Well... Except for voice commands and the latter.

animatortom 4 years ago

I keep getting the feeling that we are being lead into a Politically incorrect trap with all these articles!

back in the 80' it would have been fine to make fun comments, now its a lawsuit. Like we could have told the joke about the deaf guy because he wouldn't have been able to hear it?

Now they want to drive and sue everyone if they cant, then sue someone when they crash because no one knew better?

All I keep thinking about is the Eddie Murphy sketch about Stevie Wonder?

ClemSnide 4 years ago

You want jokes, anomatortom? How bout the vans that blind men drive all the time already? They're delivery trucks for Venetian blinds stores.

I doubt if anyone here who knows me (volunteer at the Associated Services for the Blind, 3/4 of the way there myself) would imagine that I'd think this to be anything but a good work. I'd just mention that the cars borrow greatly from the autopiloted cars that tech fans rejoice in (3vi1 above as an example); but what many people fail to realize is that even fully blind people have working brains. (Which I can't say about everyone.) Using that brain, and the five senses that remain once you drop vision, can assist the self-guiding hardware and software. Kind of like a guide dog that talks.

(And kudos to HH for endorsing the Brailled ATMs, even for drive-throughs. Earlier in the summer I saw one put to use. When I tell people of another blind friend, who has a GPS street map, I get incredulous stares and the stammered question "But how does she drive?" Some people need a processor upgrade.)

I know, I know, there are those who want everyone with a physical or mental handicap to stay inside so they don't have to see or deal with us. And if you want to make a joke about a handicapped person, or even someone who isn't of your religion or ethnicity, then go ahead! It's a free country. We may decide you're a terrible human being, and you may be fired since your company doesn't want a terrible human being representing for them, but that's their right too. Hey, I'm just saying what everyone is thinking.


@animatortom (below): I'm in trouble then. I say "handicapped" all the time, though generally it's "impaired." Or "disabled." If you have an example (which isn't a test case in a law school textbook), post it.

The term "political correctness" is an invention of the radical right, one in a line of Orwellian uses of language that has led to the "American Family Coalition," whose main goal seems to be blowing up Planned Parenthood clinics. Like the Cadillac-driving Welfare mom, it exists mainly in the control circuitry (seems too liberal to call them "minds") of people who're the modern-day equivalent of the Know-Nothing party.

I just have to wonder why you mentioned the Japanese? Is there something about them I should know?

animatortom 4 years ago

"Venetian blinds stores"

Is that some kind of Italian slam Tongue Tied

The politically correct BS is never ending! Once it starts there is no way to stop it unless no one says or develops anything! just like lawsuits that protect the disabled or visually impaired since you could get sued if you say handicapped nowadays.
Technology is meant to advance mankind. I don't see the point of making a blind person have to navigate and control any type of vehicle without a good real time reference map. A self driving taxi is way more practical for the blind (Ala Minority Report). And even more so for many other people who shouldn't be on the road, even though they are!

Tell me you wouldn't want the Japanese in your town to be driven around by smart controlled self driving cars instead of handing them a drivers license and putting them on the road?Indifferent
scottwoodd8 2 years ago

if they are willing to pursue this project maybe they should install sensors on each side of the car so that the blind people will be aware if they are going to hit something already. and maybe people should be more knowledgeable about this so that they would exert extra effort to help the blind people feel that they are normal too. i just hope that the future owners of this cars will be aware of the repair shops and automd for their cars so that they would not have a lot of trouble whenever their cars are broken.

knighttony 2 years ago

scottwoodd is right. although they are blind people, they should still be assisted with the right procedures on car repairs and auto site so that they would not feel that they are different from us. my friend's mom is blind and i think this will be a good news for her and her family. good luck to the researchers. i hope they'd succeed..

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