We're continuing our look at the top stories of 2011. Our panel of Blind Bargains and Serotek contributors each independently submitted their votes for the top stories of the year. This year's panel included Joe Steinkamp, Jamie Pauls, Kevin Reeves, Matt McCubbin, and J.J. Meddaugh. Here are our earlier stories in case you missed them. We're counting down the top stories of the year over the next week and will announce the number one live on Serospectives Thursday night. Number 7 is live from Daytona.
In January, history was made at Daytona International Speedway as a blind driver took to the speedway an navigated a course around the track. Mark Riccobono was behind the wheel of a Ford Escape vehicle modified with a nonvisual interface as part of an ongoing project between the NFB and Virginia Tech University.
The event ignited much discussion and controversy about the actual usefulness of the project and whether the research was justified or just a far-flung dream that'll never become reality.
In our view, however, the event was less about the actual blind man driving and more about the possible technology effects that could result. Just as military research during wartime resulted in such technological advances as GPS now used by millions of people, the research garnered from the Blind Driver Challenge has the potential to present similar ripple effects. Many blind people would benefit from better ways of indoor navigation, however, or additional ways to give a nonvisual view of their surroundings. Potential exists for mainstream automation and driverless drones to perform all sorts of tasks. The Blind Driver Challenge is a far flung idea, but the end result may be well worth the price of admission. This is why, it comes in at number 7 on this year's list.Articles
this story should not have been in anyone's top ten significant stories of 2011. What Virginia Tech did was to adapt existing technology to a vehicle; they didn't invent any new technology. So the argument that this project could result in technological innovations for the blind is without merit, since it is using existing technology, albeit in a different way. I am appalled that NFB is spending scarce resources on this project that will never result in a practical vehicle that a blind person will be driving on our highways -- at least in my lifetime.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.