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Navigation Guidance for People With Vision Impairment

Project Information

Project ID: 
Project Status: 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
End Date: 
Monday, February 29, 2016
FHWA Program: 
Exploratory Advanced Research
TRT Terms: 
Visually Impaired Persons; Navigational Aids; Research; Pedestrians; Planning; Global Positioning System
Subject Area: 
Pedestrians and Bicyclists, Research

Contact Information

First Name: 
Last Name: 
(202) 493-3414
Email Address: 
Exploratory Advanced Research Team
Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management
Office Code: 

Project Details

Project Description: 

The project is intended to accomplish five main objectives in terms of its potential for technical innovation and commercial application in the field of navigation aid for blind or visually impaired persons. The first objective is to provide a navigational aid that can track the location of a blind person anywhere, including areas where a global positioning system (GPS) is not available or not reliable (e.g., indoors, in urban areas with tall buildings, etc.). The second is to look ahead in time and space to plan a route that allows a visually impaired person to get to a destination, then to adaptively update the route based on vision system recognized obstacles that are to be avoided, such as people or construction within the path (a concept known in robotics as Event Horizon). The third is to take gestural input and provide natural route guidance based on tactile stimuli (instead of relying solely on auditory or visual instructions). The fourth objective is to use computer vision techniques to verify that the user has reached the correct destination, as well as to find stairs, elevators (buttons), hallways, and doors in the visual scope to help with navigation. The final objective is to take input from and provide input to intelligent traffic systems (for example, the ability to communicate with drivers to send them alerts when they are getting close to a blind person who is crossing the street).


To develop a navigation aid for people with vision disabilities that will increase their mobility by providing them with spatial awareness for long path-planning and guidance.