London: Scientists are inching closer to
develop a special car which can be driven by blind motorists.
The unique car, expected to be built as early as next
year, will be equipped with a new technology that would help a
sightless person to get behind the wheel.
The technology, called nonvisual interfaces, will guide
its driver through traffic by transmitting information about
nearby vehicles or objects.
Vibrating gloves or streams of compressed air directed
behind the wheel are among the options for communicating the
information needed to avoid collisions and reach a
The National Federation of the Blind of the US and
Virginia Tech, which are jointly developing the car, said they
hope to demonstrate a prototype of the car in 2011, the
"We`re exploring areas that have previously been regarded
as unexplorable," said Dr Mark Maurer, president of the
National Federation of the Blind.
"We`re moving away from the theory that blindness ends
the capacity of human beings to make contributions to
Maurer first came up with the idea that the blind could
drive about a decade ago when he launched the organisation`s
"Some people thought I was crazy, and they thought, `Why
do you want us to raise money for something that can`t be
done?` Others thought it was a great idea," Maurer said.
"Some people were incredulous. Others thought the idea was
The vehicle is based in Virginia Tech`s 2007 entry into
the DARPA Grand Challenge, a competition for driverless
vehicles financed by the Defence Department`s research arm.
The blind organisation was impressed by the invention,
saying it is part of a broader mission which will change the
way people perceive the blind.
Mark Riccobono, executive director of The NFB`s Jernigan
Institute, said: "This will change when people see that we can
do something that they thought was impossible."