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Aug 2, 2009

"Technology is neither good nor bad, nor even neutral. Technology is one part of the complex of relationships that people form with each other and the world around them; it simply cannot be understood outside of that concept." --Samuel Collins

College Students Build Car for the Blind

A new car developed by undergraduate students at Virginia Tech is so tricked-out with safety features that its blind operators probably won't be on the receiving end of many road-rage rants. The prototype is built on the bones of an ordinary dune buggy, using technology grafted from the university's entry in the "Urban Challenge" contest. "The semi-autonomous vehicle uses a laser range finder, voice software and other sensory technology, and it worked flawlessly when blind drivers took the wheel on a closed course," writes Wired blogger Ben Mack. According to the article, the project began in 2004 as a challenge from the Jermigan Institute, which is affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind. Virginia Tech was the only organization to accept the challenge and received a modest $3,000 grant to build the blind-friendly car.

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