• Jul 11, 2010
Virginia Tech takes on the Blind Driver Challenge – Click above to watch video after the jump

Researchers at Virginia Tech are teaming with the National Federation of the Blind to build two Ford Escape test vehicles designed specifically for visually-impaired drivers. After building a small buggy last year equipped with an audio steering wheel and various other "non-visual interfaces," the team decided to take a stab at going full-size. Drivers will use a vibrating vest and gloves, as well as a tablet-type device that shoots puffs of compressed air to represent the road course.

If you're skeptical about allowing the blind to drive, you're not alone. Researchers say the end goal of the project isn't to start a blind-driving movement, but to explore and further develop blind-interface technology. The work could lead to innovations that could in turn be applied to other aspects of visually-impaired life.

\Virginia Tech's Ford Escape test vehicles will head to the Daytona International Speedway next January, where they're scheduled to put on a full demonstration. Hit the jump to see a quick video on the Blind Driver Challenge.

[Source: Engadget]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can I have some kind of audible or visual warning device to warn me that a blind person is driving a car please? Or is an Audi with a senior citizen embedded in the hood, dragging a tree, enough warning?
        • 4 Years Ago
        or mikey

        it sounds like hypocrisy and you can google that one!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, that's called "being ironic". Google it.
        • 4 Years Ago


        you also joined the argument against approaching EV's having a sound system to alert blind pedestrians. you have a real sense of humor there.

        Quoting "Damn! I'm just going to continue running blind people over with my bicycle then."

      • 4 Years Ago
      OK, was I the only one to notice that the seeing passenger in the photo was POINTING where he wanted the blind driver to go?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I really feel badly for blind people but this just isn't a good idea.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, with hopes that they may one day be able to drive. No matter how advanced the system I still don't think it is a good idea, stuff breaks and when it does you have to be able to react.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Braille driving....the blind (car) leading "the blind".

        It's not a new concept, esp. for trendsetter CA (as in Los Angeles freeway) drivers...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Boxer Fanatic,

      My guess would be that driving is such an informationally intense activity that if they can develop systems to handle such a large quantity of information then doing something less complex would be easier... at least in theory.

      kinda like Tesla's idea, developing sports cars is harder then commuter cars- so if we do a sports car first and do it well then that technology would be easier to translate to other vehicles instead of visa versa.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is why there's Braille on the "Drive-In Teller" machine keys ???
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ok, if we are letting the blind behind the wheel, I never want to hear another word about me talking on my cellphone while driving.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Im all for progress but damn its hard enough as it is on my r6. :D
      • 4 Years Ago
      I say go for it and test the possibilities.... the future is only limited by our imaginations and fears.... and sometimes by ridicule.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh my friggin' god, here we go again...

      READ THE ARTICLE, PEOPLE! Jesus H. Christ!

      This is not about them developing technology to where the visually impaired can drive. It is technology being developed for the blind so they can lead a normal life without walking with a 5' stick tapping on the ground.

      Stop looking at the pictures, stop scrolling down to the comment section, and read the damn articles. Why come on this website if you're not going to read the articles?there's absolutely no point if you're just going to do that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Researchers say the end goal of the project isn't to start a blind-driving movement, but to explore and further develop blind-interface technology. The work could lead to innovations that could in turn be applied to other aspects of visually-impaired life."

      That may indeed be an admirable goal.

      The question is... why would they be developing blind interface technology, in their words, for things OTHER than driving... by prototyping VEHICLES????????

      Conversely, how can you say that a blind-driveable vehicle prototype be a development for something OTHER than sightless driving?

      Sometimes fate just shouldn't be tempted, despite theoretically good intentions. Tragedy is not always mitigated by "I just wanted to help..."
      • 4 Years Ago
      Based on my commute here in CT, the blind are already driving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My favorite is the motorcycles that expect you to watch out for them but then they don't obey the law and drive like idiots.

        Or the blind people that pretend to read these articles and then post a comment which is obvious they didn't read the whole post which makes them look like idiots.

        This technology could be used for people who are legally privileged to drive yet still have problems with lets say depth perception yes the article only mentions BLIND but it might turn into something bigger.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Exactly what I was thinking. The blind are already on the road! Then there are those who only are blind to motorcycles. Those are my favorite.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And the deaf and dumb.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @skylartoups, why don't you take your own advice? Where in ctobio's comment does it say anything related to your rant?
      • 4 Years Ago
      im not trying to be discriminant but you don't see people with 1 arm playing professional basketball or baseball. im not saying it cant be done, and if it can be sure take those risks and investors money to try. but i just don't see how this is possible. im sure fake eyes will come up well before this is even remotely possible for every day use.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Alex Zanardi would like to disagree.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jim Abbott would like a word with you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        if u read the whole article u would know that they dont want the blind driving, they want to develop blind interface technology
        • 4 Years Ago
        I hate when people say "I'm not trying to be x...", and then proceed to be x, like having that disclaimer beforehand excuses them from otherwise being distasteful or ignorant.

        Also,

        1. Jim Abbott was a pitcher for the Angels and Yankees. Despite only having one hand, he threw a no-hitter in 1993.

        2. Kevin Laue isn't in the NBA (yet), but he plays Division I collegiate basketball on an athletic scholarship. He uses what he calls "the nub" of his left arm for defense and ball control.

        3. Pete Gray is a hall-of-fame left fielder who played for the St. Louis Browns during WWII. Only hampered by the fact he couldn't hit breaking pitches, he still managed a .218 batting average for the 1945 season.

        And aside from professional basketball and baseball, Billy Baxter was a British soldier who totally lost his eyesight, but still set the motorcycle land speed record in 2003 and completed a solo lap of Donington in 2007 on a Ducati Monster.
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