Besides freedom and independence, the reason why people with visual impairment wanted a car where they can ‘drive’ was to show the world that, with a little bit of technology, they can do things most other people can do. For Dennis Hong, this gave him a chance to inspire other researchers to look into the problem of developing technology for blind people. That being said, he thinks one would like a car where he/she can both drive and be driven, whether blind or sighted. Even if people purchase an autonomous car in the future, Dennis is sure that people would like to ‘drive’ it time to time, as it is a fun activity.
US Scientists and the National Federation of the Blind are developing a car for the blind and will present a prototype in 2011. The vehicle will be fitted with technology that allows a blind person to drive independently, the NFB and Virginia Tech University said.
Non-visual aids include sensors indicating turns in the road via vibrating gloves. Puffs of compressed air on the face will alert the driver to obstacles. Other aids to be fitted include a vibrating vest to give feedback on speed and a steering wheel with audio cues and spoken commands indicating the car’s direction.