[Nfbmo] Fw: [Blindad] Va. Tech designs vehicle that allowstheblind to drive

Bryan Schulz b.schulz at sbcglobal.net
Sat Aug 8 02:17:05 UTC 2009


i wonder if people would be driving legally or illegally.  everybody 
instantly says how great this will be but nobody stops to think where are 
you going to get insurance and will it be inflated 2-5 times just due to 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Matt Sievert" <msievert at sbcglobal.net>
To: "NFB of Missouri Mailing List" <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>; 
<nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 9:02 PM
Subject: Re: [Nfbmo] Fw: [Blindad] Va. Tech designs vehicle that 
allowstheblind to drive

> That is TOTALLY awesome.
> One day I could drive myself to the store in the middle of a very cold and 
> snowy Michigan winter.
> Truly inspiring!
> Thank you so much for sharing.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: "fred olver" <goodfolks at charter.net>
> Date: Fri, 7 Aug 2009 13:18:46
> To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List<nfbmo at nfbnet.org>; 
> <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Subject: [Nfbmo] Fw: [Blindad] Va. Tech designs vehicle that allows the
> blind to drive
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Danny Dyer" <ddyer1 at gmail.com>
> To: <blindad at babel-fish.us>
> Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 11:21 AM
> Subject: [Blindad] Va. Tech designs vehicle that allows the blind to drive
>> This From VIP News Group Is Very Interesting!
>> TOPIC: Va. Tech designs vehicle that allows the blind to drive
>> http://groups.google.com/group/vipnews/t/bcc3e83952ab4fc1?hl=en
>> ==============================================================================
>> == 1 of 1 ==
>> Date: Thurs, Aug 6 2009 6:34 pm
>> From:
>> NewsLeader.com, VA, USA
>> Va. Tech designs vehicle that allows the blind to drive
>> Staff Reports
>> July 15, 2009
>> BLACKSBURG - 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.
>> "It was great!" said Wes Majerus of Baltimore, the first blind person to
>> drive the buggy on a closed
>> course at the Virginia Tech campus earlier this summer. Majerus is an
>> access technology specialist
>> with the National Federation of the Blind's Jernigan Institute in
>> Baltimore, a research and training
>> institute dedicated to developing technologies and services to help the
>> blind achieve independence.
>> Majerus called his drive a liberating experience, adding that he drove
>> before on Nebraska farm roads
>> with his father as a guide in the passenger seat.
>> Sitting inside the vehicle, a blind driver can turn the steering wheel,
>> stop and accelerate by
>> following data from a computing unit that uses sensory information from
>> the laser range finder
>> serving as the 'eyes' of the driver, in addition to a combination of 
>> voice
>> commands and a vibrating
>> vest as guides. A member of the Virginia Tech student team sat next to
>> Majerus in the passenger seat
>> to monitor the system's software operations.
>> "It's a great first step," Majerus added. "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?"
>> Also driving the vehicle was Mark Riccobono, also of Baltimore, the
>> executive director of the
>> Jernigan Institute, who also is blind. He called his test drive historic.
>> "This is sort of our going
>> to the moon project," he said
>> In 2004 Jernigan Institute challenged university research teams to 
>> develop
>> a vehicle that would one
>> day allow the blind to drive. Virginia Tech was the only university in 
>> the
>> nation to accept the
>> nonprofit's call two years later, said Dennis Hong, director of the
>> Robotics and Mechanisms
>> Laboratory, part of the Virginia Tech mechanical engineering department.
>> The National Federation of
>> the Blind provided a $3,000 grant to launch the project.
>> "I thought it would be a very rewarding project, helping the blind," said
>> Hong, the current faculty
>> adviser on the project. "We are not only excited about the vehicle 
>> itself,
>> but more than that, we
>> are excited about the potential of the many spin-off technologies from
>> this project that can be used
>> for helping the blind in so many ways."
>> The team will bring the Blind Driver Challenge vehicle to the National
>> Federation of the Blind's
>> Youth Slam summer camp event held July 26 through Aug. 1 in College Park,
>> Md. There, the team hopes
>> to have teenagers who would be obtaining their driver's licenses, but
>> cannot because of their
>> blindness, drive the buggy.
>> Youth participants also are expected to remote control drive miniature
>> cars. Additionally, the car
>> is expected to ride in a National Federation of the Blind-sponsored 
>> parade
>> in Washington D.C.
>> "I most look forward to learning as much as I can from these bright young
>> students," said Greg
>> Jannaman, who led the Virginia Tech student team in his senior year and
>> graduated in May with a
>> bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. "Blind students from across
>> the nation apply to be
>> selected to attend this summer camp. While we are there to provide an
>> educational experience for
>> them, I can only imagine the invaluable feedback and fresh new ideas that
>> they will provide in
>> return."
>> Jannaman is excited about the vehicle's success. "There wasn't a moment's
>> hesitation with any of our
>> blind drivers, whereas blind-folded sighted drivers weren't as quick to
>> let go of their
>> preconceptions," said Jannaman of Hendersonville, Tenn. "The blind 
>> drivers
>> actually performed better
>> than their sighted counterparts. An overwhelming sense of accomplishment
>> overcame me as I simply
>> rode along while Wes and Mark successfully navigated the driving course
>> without my assistance."
>> Early models of the Blind Driver Challenge vehicle relied more on
>> technologies for fully autonomous
>> vehicles, previously developed by Virginia Tech mechanical engineering
>> students as part of the DARPA
>> Urban Challenge. The student team redesigned the vehicle so that the 
>> blind
>> motorist has complete
>> control of the driving process, as any sighted driver would.
>> This change in approach led to new challenges, including how to
>> effectively convey the high
>> bandwidth of information from the laser sensors scanning the vehicle's
>> surrounding environment to
>> the driver fast enough and accurate enough to allow safe driving. As a
>> result, the team developed
>> non-visual interface technologies, including a vibrating vest for 
>> feedback
>> on speed, a click counter
>> steering wheel with audio cues, spoken commands for directional feedback,
>> and a unique tactile map
>> interface that utilizes compressed air to provide information about the
>> road and obstacles
>> surrounding the vehicle.
>> Riccobono knows of mock ups and non-working "blind driver car" set-ups
>> from the past, but says this
>> is the first working vehicle to put the blind and visually impaired in
>> control of the steering
>> wheel. "Blind people have brains, the capacity to make decisions," he
>> said. "Blind people want to
>> live independent lives, why would they not want to drive?"
>> Even once the technology is perfected, laws now barring the blind from
>> driving and public perception
>> must be changed, Riccobono said. "This is the piece that we know will be
>> the most difficult," said
>> Riccobono, adding that the car must be near-perfected before the National
>> Federation of the Blind
>> can truly push the car to law-makers and the general public. He said this
>> effort will take millions
>> of dollars in development.
>> The 2009-10 student team already is planning major changes to the
>> technology, including replacing
>> the dirt buggy vehicle with a fully electric car commonly used by traffic
>> officers in downtown city
>> centers. The all-electric vehicle would reduce the vibration which can
>> cause problems to the laser
>> sensor, and it will provide clean electric power for the computing units
>> and that is better for the
>> environment.
>> Hong is a National Science Foundation CAREER Award recipient. He received
>> his bachelor's degree in
>> mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994,
>> and his master's and
>> doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1999
>> and 2002, respectively.
>> http://www.newsleader.com/article/20090715/NEWS01/90715001/1002/news01/Va.+Tech+designs+vehicle+that+allows+the+blind+to+drive
>> _______________________________________________
>> Blindad mailing list
>> Blindad at babel-fish.us
>> http://babel-fish.us/mailman/listinfo/blindad_babel-fish.us
> _______________________________________________
> Nfbmo mailing list
> Nfbmo at nfbnet.org
> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfbmo_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for 
> Nfbmo:
> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nfbmo_nfbnet.org/msievert%40sbcglobal.net
> _______________________________________________
> Nfbmo mailing list
> Nfbmo at nfbnet.org
> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nfbmo_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for 
> Nfbmo:
> http://www.nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nfbmo_nfbnet.org/b.schulz%40sbcglobal.net 

More information about the NFBMO mailing list