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For the First Time Blind People Can Drive

Posted on the 28 July 2011 by Techsea360 @techsea360

For the first time Blind people can drive


Many believe that driving is an activity solely reserved for those who can see, that a blind person behind the wheel is an impossible task. However, Denis Hong made a car that a blind person can drive freely and independently.
Dr. Hong worked on a project, DARPA Urban Challenge, where they built a car that can drive itself. It was simply a robotic car. But the problem with this car was that it was just like an elevator. You just press the button and it takes you to your destination.  So, their idea of putting a blind man into the Robot car was canceled, as they wanted to build a car that a blind person can actually drive on his own.
So, they invited dozens of blind youth to drive their prototype car. The prototype car was just the start; it was made to be operated in a controlled environment. Of course an actual road is a more complex course than a racetrack. Drivers must pay attention to movement around them, monitoring oncoming traffic and vehicles moving in front and behind their car.  They have to look out for pedestrians and practice crisis management in the face of a sudden change in road activity. For people with eyes it doesn’t seem to be a hard task, but for a blind person it seems rather impossible.  And a car that could permit visually disabled people to drive has been nowhere to be seen.  But finally, they built it.

For the first time Blind people can drive

prototype car for blind

It is a very complex system but Dr. Hong simplifies it as a PERCEPTION COMPUTATION-NON VISUAL INTERFACE. It is obvious that a blind person can't perceive the outer environment, so, they use inertial measuring instruments that can measure acceleration as a GPS unit. They used 2 cameras to measure the width of the road and laser scanners to scan oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Then these vast amounts of data were sent into the computer which in turn sent this data to the driver along with the safest driving instructions. But the main problem remains, “how can we send these information to a person who can't see….”
For that they built lots of non-visual user interfaces to communicate with visually impaired drivers. They built a 3D sound system, vibrating vests, leg stripe etc. 

In order to better understand the project, check out the video below:


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