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'Virtual Picture' Tech Helps Blind Man Drive at Daytona

mark riccobono
Mark Riccobono, who has been legally blind since the age of 5, showed off some of the Ford Escape's new features at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday... by driving one.

As part of the activities scheduled before the Rolex 24, Riccobono, who is also the executive director of the National Federation of the Blind's Jernigan Institute, piloted the hybrid SUV around the famed racetrack with thousands watching (and hundreds more blind crowd members listening).

Riccobono's run was part of something called the Blind Driver Challenge, which aims to "build interface technologies that will empower blind people to drive a car independently. "The 'challenge,'" the initiative's site explains, "is not the development of an autonomous car that drives a blind person around; the 'challenge' is to develop a nonvisual interface for a car that can convey real-time information about driving conditions to the blind so that we can use our own capacity to think and react to interpret these data and maneuver a car safely."

Not everybody is excited about this (including, but not limited to, everyone we know), but, if it's possible to create real-time "tactile imaging" that describes a visual field, that's a pretty good result for a bunch of engineers going around a blind corner. (Sorry!)

Tags: blind, BlindDriverChallenge, blindness, cars, daytona, DaytonaInternationalSpeedway, HybridCars, MarkRiccobono, Rolex24AtDaytona, top, transportation, virginia tech, VirginiaTech