Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From TED2011: Dennis Hong: Making a car for blind drivers

From the international TED2011 event: Using robotics, laser rangefinders, GPS and smart feedback tools, Dennis Hong is building a car for drivers who are blind. It's not a "self-driving" car, he's careful to note, but a car in which a non-sighted driver can determine speed, proximity and route -- and drive independently.

Hong, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech spoke about the Blind Driver Challenge project and its Daytona Rolex24 debut at the TED2011 event, held in early March in Long Beach, Calif. Among his fellow speakers: Bill Gates, Bill Ford and Roger Ebert. Watch the video.

Image of Dennis Hong on the TED stage is courtesy of TED2011.

From 'Popular Science': How a Blind Man Drove the Daytona Speedway

By Juliet Lapidos

Mark Anthony Riccobono, who is blind, drove a modified Ford Escape hybrid on the Daytona International Speedway, turning to avoid obstacles. He navigated using feedback from the car’s laser sensors and cameras, installed by a team of researchers from Virginia Tech and the company Torc Technologies. PopSci spoke by phone to Riccobono, the executive director of the National Federation of the Blind’s Jernigan Institute, which researches new technology for the blind.

How did you know when to turn?

The car’s laser range-finding sensors sent data to a computer, which in turn sent me directional information. I was wearing gloves with motors in the knuckle....


Image of Mark Riccobono by Steven D. A. Mackay.