Driving Blind, Literally

This is both inspiring and terrifying. The National Federation of the Blind has been working diligently on creating a car that can be driven by blind people.

Using a clever system involving vibrating gloves and puffs of air, the specialized car provides a way for the driver to interact with the car’s surroundings in a non-visual way.

Currently the car is being tested and will debut as part of the pre-race activities at the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The innovation doesn’t stop there though.

The team plans to take their car on the road, literally. The street-ready version, a Ford Escape Hybrid, comes fully equipped with a bullhorn, huge rubber bumpers and some very eye-catching braille decals. Just kidding.

Dr. Dennis Hong, Director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech provided this horrifying sound byte.

he challenge was not the development of an autonomous vehicle that could drive a blind person around, but rather the creation of nonvisual interfaces that would allow a blind person to actually make driving decisions.

Dr. Death happily accepted the challenge in 2007 to create a blind-friendly vehicle.

The press release provides little information about the legality of a car designed to be driven by the visually disabled, nor any real technical details about how precise the driver’s interaction is, but next year we advise you to look out for Ford Escapes weaving erratically in your area.

Written by Toby Leftly

Toby is a Mac nerd, a hardware nerd and a web nerd, rolled into one. You can find him at accentmedia.ca or on Twitter.
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Comments
  • Jack

    I have nothing against blind people, and believe those with disabilities should have the same rights as everybody else.

    But what about the risk to other drivers?!

    • alex

      Driving ISN’T a right! It’s a privilege for anyone who read their states Driver Handbook. There are just too many DMV who treat it like it’s a right, or some coming-of-age. They may as well just set the drivers licenses out in a candy dish, and just have ONE person in the office to refill it occasionally. The states could save millions.

  • alex

    Ok, seriously, EVERYONE does not need to drive!! People who can see are already a reckless danger as it is. We really, REALLY don’t need people who are literally blind driving motor vehicles, ANYWHERE, EVER!!