Crazy as it may sound, the National Federation of the Blind and Virginia Tech demonstrated a prototype today of a vehicle that comes equipped with technology which is said to enable a blind person to independently operate a car. The technology, referred to as “nonvisual interfaces”, employs sensors to allow the blind driver to maneuver his car based on information transmitted to him about his surroundings.
Many advocates for the blind consider this project a pipe dream, but researchers are determined to revolutionize the way we think about limitations imposed by blindness. “We’re exploring areas that have previously been regarded as unexplorable,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. “We’re moving away from the theory that blindness ends the capacity of human beings to make contributions to society.”
Maurer had first mentioned the notion of such a research project ten years ago when the organization first launched its research institute, and he was scoffed at.
His vision became not so lofty when Virginia Tech entered a driverless vehicle into the 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge, a contest run and funded by the research arm of the Defense Department. Multiple “nonvisual interfaces” will be employed; one for instance, will work off of vibrations sent to the driver via special gloves work while driving, and another will employ puffs of air to create a virtual map of the drivers surroundings.
– By: Stephen Calogera
Source: Detroit News