Blind Driver Challenge
The Virginia Tech Blind Driver Challenge (BDC) was created in response to an initiative proposed by the National Federation of the Blind. Today, the project exists as a senior design team comprised of twelve undergraduate students within the Virginia Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering. This Jan. 29 at the Daytona International Speedway’s Rolex 24 race, students will debut two second-generation Blind Driver Challenge vehicles that allow the blind to drive using non-visual interface assistance technologies.
The goal of the project is to create a vehicle that is capable of being operated by a blind driver. The team’s goals adhere closely to the mission statement of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, which “leads the quest to understand the real problems of blindness and to develop innovative education, technologies, products and services that help the world’s blind to achieve independence.” In summary, through the development and integration of novel non-visual driver interfaces on an existing vehicle platform, Team BDC hopes to provide the blind with a degree of independence that they have never before experienced.
A 16 year old drives for the first time in Virginia Tech’s entry in the Blind Diver Challenge. The vehicle was created by students in the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory.