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Blind Man Drives Car Independently

Avoids Dynamic Obstacles

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Jan. 29, 2011

The historic demonstration was part of pre-race activities leading up to the Rolex 24 At Daytona this morning.  Mr. Riccobono not only successfully navigated the several turns of the road course but also avoided obstacles, some of which were stationary and some of which were thrown into his path at random from a van driving in front of him.  Later he successfully passed the van without collision.  The Ford Escape was equipped with laser range-finding censors that conveyed information to a computer inside the vehicle, allowing it to create and constantly update a three-dimensional map of the road environment.  The computer sent directions to vibrating gloves on the driver’s hands, indicating which way to steer, and to a vibrating strip on which he was seated, indicating when to speed up, slow down, or stop.

Mr. Riccobono said: "The NFB’s leadership in the Blind Driver Challenge™ has taken something almost everyone believed was an impossible dream and turned it into reality.  It was thrilling for me to be behind the wheel, but even more thrilling to hear the cheers from my blind brothers and sisters in the grandstands* — today all of the members of the NFB helped drive us forward*.  It is for them and for all blind Americans that the National Federation of the Blind undertook this project to show that blind people can do anything that our sighted friends and colleagues can do as long as we have access to information through nonvisual means.  Today we have demonstrated that truth to the nation and the world."

Marc Maurer Mark Riccobono

Virginia Tech Dennis Hong Virginia Tech.

About the National Federation of the Blind

January 2004 the United States

SOURCE National Federation of the Blind

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