Karting in vehicles adapted for the blind and wheelchair users

The adventure of driving a kart is no longer wishful thinking for people with visual disabilities, thanks to a patented system on a circuit that will allow the blind to drive these vehicles. Blind people can now drive on their own along a racetrack and live an experience unattainable until now.

This new steering system is composed of a mechanism on the wheel that makes a clicking sound each time it is turned, a video camera embedded in the car and audio intercom to listen to the orders a guide who becomes the eyes of the blind on the road.

The prototype is patented and is “unique in the world” because it is the driver who makes all of the driving decisions.

This ‘adventure’ is recommended not only for people with any type of visual disability, but can also be experienced by those who want to know what are the perceptions of blind people. Users like the singer from Navarra, Serafín Zubiri explain that the most difficult thing, at first, is coordinating the speed with the orders received through the headphone to synchronise the feet on the accelerator and brake: “The more and more laps I did around the circuit, the more in control at the wheel I felt. In fact, I didn’t want to get out of the car, as I felt safer driving after each lap and improved my times”. However, it’s not as easy as arriving at the circuit and getting into the kart. Zubiri previously had to do a reconnaissance walking around the track to perceive its dimensions and on a map in ‘Braille’.

In that first contact the instructions are given on the bends that the driver will receive later on from his/her ‘codriver’, who will not be by his/her side, but rather in a cubicle where the signal is received from the kart’s camera.

After these explanations, with the helmet and safety belt tight and inside the kart, the driver receives indications on how to use the accelerator and brake pedals.
Once the car is started, the driver hears the voice of his/her ‘codriver’ at all times, who when he/she sees -via the image from the camera- that the driver is approaching a bend, starts to give orders on which side he/she has to turn the wheel and until when, depending on the clicks the steering has as limits.
In other cases it is an in-vehicle computer which captures information through sensors and automatically adjusts the driving.

The idea arose a year ago when the owners of the circuit learned about the existence of designs of adapted karts for all types of disabilities except for the blind.
At that time they set to work to develop this navigation model that could be applied to other sports but not to conventional road driving, as the intervention of a codriver is necessary, who gives instructions on board, and the implementation of safety measures

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