The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Blind Driver Challenge™ is one of our most innovative and far-reaching research initiatives. It was originally started in 2004 with a major milestone in 2011. We continue to push this initiative and are eager for the 2021 Blind Driver Challenge.
Accelerating in 2021: Blind Driver Challenge Continues
With the promising benefits of driverless technology, nonvisual accessibility must be a priority. As part of the 2021 Blind Driver Challenge, we will educate and advocate on the need for federal autonomous vehicle legislation and regulatory exemptions so that achievements in transportation independence can exist not only on the race track or the record books, but in ordinary life. The Blind Driver Challenge will:
- shatter misconceptions and push the boundaries of what is deemed possible
- innovate new improved accessible tools and strategies to facilitate our equal participation
- increase the speed at which we move toward the design, development, and implementation of accessible technology that presents us with opportunities to live, work, and play as active members of society.
Breaking World Record
We are collaborating with Dan Parker to build and operate a car to attempt to break the Guinness Book World Record for the “Fastest Speed for a Car Driven Blindfolded” in the fall of 2021, anticipating reaching a speed of over two hundred miles per hour. More details coming soon!
“I am proud and honored to partner with the National Federation of the Blind and the Blind Driver Challenge to bring the Guinness World Record for the fastest blind person in the world home to America,” said Dan Parker. “With the work of the Blind Driver Challenge, it was demonstrated that a blind person can safely drive a vehicle, and I will demonstrate that a blind person can safely race a vehicle at over two hundred miles per hour. Together we hope to inspire the blind youth of today to get involved in STEM at their schools. My 2008 Corvette is a purpose-built race car and I designed every aspect of it.”
Dan Parker is the first blind person to independently drive a vehicle to fifty miles per hour, one hundred miles per hour, and one hundred fifty miles per hour to this date. His Corvette makes over eight hundred horsepower and has a custom guidance system that gives him audible feedback.
History of Blind Driver Challenge
The Blind Driver Challenge is the commitment to pursuing the development of innovative nonvisual interfaces that might be used to empower blind people with the information necessary to drive. On January 29, 2011, our NFB Blind Driver Challenge™ demonstration of the prototype nonvisual interface that makes it possible for a blind person to independently drive a car made history at 11:30 a.m. EST, preceding the Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway. Mark Riccobono became the first blind driver by independently driving 1.5 miles of the road course at Daytona in a demonstration that included avoiding static and dynamic obstacles, driving a number of turns and straight aways, and passing another vehicle.
The key objectives of the Blind Driver Challenge originally were:
- develop nonvisual interface technology that conveys real-time information about the driving environment so that it will be possible for a blind person to safely and independently drive a car.
- ensure that a blind person can access the information necessary to confidently press the accelerator of an automobile
- further transportation initiative so that blind people will remain independent and competitive.
The challenge was not the development of an autonomous car that drives a blind person around; the challenge was to develop a nonvisual interface that can convey real-time information about driving conditions to the blind so that they can use their own capacity to think and react to interpret these data and maneuver a car safely. The goal was, and remains, the development of technology that drives independence.