July 15, 2009 in Blacksburg Virginia – A student team in the Virginia Tech College of Engineering is providing the blind with an opportunity many never thought possible: The opportunity to drive.
A retrofitted four-wheel dirt buggy developed by the Blind Driver Challenge team from Virginia Tech’s Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory uses laser range finders, an instant voice command interface and a host of other innovative, cutting-edge technology to guide blind drivers as they steer, brake, and accelerate. Although in the early testing stage, the National Federation of the Blind -- which spurred the project -- considers the vehicle a major breakthrough for independent living of the visually impaired.
“As far as the differences between human instructions and those given by the voice in the Blind Driver Challenge car, the car’s instructions are very precise. You use the technology to act on the environment -- the driving course -- in a very orderly manner. In some cases, the human passenger will be vague, “turn left” -- does that mean just a small turn to the left, or are we going for large amounts of turn?
If this does not compare to going to the moon or give hope to the visually impaired I dont know what will. Thank You Virginia Tech for a wonderful opportunity.