Background : ICT 4 Better Life
Not everyone is born perfect in this world. There are some people who are by-birth differently abled or some who get serious dysfunctionalities due to accidents. And we who are not physically casual have to assist them from our side. Some are visually impaired whereas some have issues with full or partial locomotion. The use of Information & Communications Technologies (ICT) for better life can help us achieve greater flexibility in daily lives. Commuting can be made handicapped friendly using advanced technologies in vehicular systems.
Challenges of Future Cars for disabled
There are lots of problems for visually impaired to live their life specially when they have to travel to different places. It would be good for them if their personal car can take them to their destination in a smarter way than today’s. Future cars for visually impaired is aimed at making needy’s life easy. The future car for visually challenged should be small and environment friendly. It should be small enough to travel to different places without any hassle & large enough to accommodate their needs.
The car has to locate the place on a map and search possible routes and drive on its own lane. There are a lot of obstacles on the road like cars, trains & people crossing the road, people walking on streets, a car right in front and behind of you, traffic lights and other many more. The car should be equipped with different complex technology, devices in order to overcome all those problems to run in a real world where there are no boundaries.
The real world challenges to the car of the future and their application for the visually impaired people can be specific to geography, level of disabilities and technology involved. The simple solution presented here aim at making an intelligent future car for the needy using currently available technologies.
Innovation with Future Cars
Innovation brings betterment to human life. Technology can change the life of those person who are visually impaired. The innovation with our car of the future here is communication. With a good communication between cars, person and physical things, it is possible for a visually impaired to commute in his/her personal vehicle. This vehicle has a special sensor in its front, rear and sides of the body for real time communication with other vehicle in order to avoid collision between them.
The visually impaired person comes out of his house by his/her guide dog. The special device as necklace calls the car from parking and the guide dog and the disabled person sits in it. Then the car asks the person which location to drive (either it is a restaurant, market, hospital, or any other users favourite location.)
Then the car drives the person exactly to that location and saves the routes for future uses. While on the way it detects other vehicles as well as obstacles on road with sensor and cameras. There is a steering wheel which does not steer the vehicle instead there are braille buttons on it to help the person know the information about anything he asks.
There are traffic lights on the road. The camera sensor located at the top of the car detects the traffic lights and works according to it. The person does not have to turn on the lights or switch on anything. The car turns on the light when it’s dark. It turns on the other indicators as needed. There is voice recognition system which enables the person to control the car.
Future cars with current technologies
To guide the visually impaired, future car should have vision of its own, at least programmatically. It should have retractable towing bar in rear and front incase if someone wants to help the visually impaired to get to the location by his/her car. It should be equipped with different forms of sensors in its body to ensure the safety. Varieties of sensors have to be deployed to achieve a helpful car for the visually challenged persons.
1. Road Sign Sensor:
It detects the road signs & symbols to help the person navigate his/her vehicle. The car will itself slowdown or accelerate in the place where needed by reading the speed limits.
2. Lane Sensor:
The car stays in its own lane (possibly a lane meant for disabled.) So, all the disabled person’s car drives in that lane without causing any disturbances to other heavy load vehicles and emergency vehicles. They can travel at slow pace calculating and computing automagically.
3. Parking Sensor:
It helps the disabled while parking his/her vehicle. When the visually impaired goes for work, hospital or any other places for special purpose then parking would be a difficult task for a visually impaired. The car leaves the person at entrance door of the building if possible and goes for parking on its own. So the car should park on its own by using the automatic parking feature. It will park avoiding obstacles and in the designated location or in disabled parking area. Later on the person can call the car near to him/her by a special device (Smart Phones) and return to residence.
Summary: Future Car for the Visually Impaired
The realization of such car for the future is possible using the current state of the art Information & Communication Technologies like deploying maximum amount of sensor types and intelligent cameras; and a good communication system. This car will be a companion to the visually impaired when travelling. It would help them a lot by directly taking them to their destinations.
Visually impaired can now freely visit the place they like in such cars provided they are smart enough to travel with these intelligent vehicular system. The future holds bright for all when technology is used at its best.
Note: This publication/concept of Future Car for the Visually Impaired as a part of ICT for Better Life was originally submitted to an International Future Car competition in Australia. The author has published himself on this website ICT4D.co with copyright access.