Eelke Folmer
Human+ Lab
University of Nevada, Reno

The Blind Driver Challenge: Steering using Haptic Cues

The development of a vehicle that can be driven independently by blind users has great potential to significantly increase their mobility and quality of life. Current legislation, however, requires a licensed driver to be present in the vehicle to take over control in case of a malfunction. To enable blind people to eventually use a self-driving car independently, we developed an interface that allows for steering a vehicle using haptic cues. Our work innovates over existing work, in that we identify what accuracy is required --and possible-- for steering using a haptic interface. User studies with six blind and sighted subjects identify what accuracy is required and possible using our interface to steer a vehicle on a track using a simulator. We investigate whether driving experience affects haptic steering performance and perform a qualitative study into the usability of our haptic steering interface. We identify that prior driving experience does not affect the performance of haptic steering with no difference in performance found between sighted and blind subjects. Blind drivers respond faster to haptic cues than sighted drivers. Results of this research could eventually allow for blind people to use autonomous vehicles independently.


Burkay Sucu and Eelke Folmer. The Blind Driver Challenge: Steering using Haptic Cues. Proceedings of the International ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS'14), Pages 3-10, Rochester, October 2014. [26% acceptance rate]