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CERA wants to accelerate driverless cars

09/10/2017
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The Centre for Eye Research Australia is on the lookout for collaborators to help accelerate the development of driverless cars.

The leading eye research institute already has researchers active in areas relevant to the development of driverless vehicle technology, but is hoping to join forces with companies, industry, and peak bodies to expedite the technology.

Managing director Professor Jonathan Crowston said access to mobility services for the vision-impaired was an urgent priority.



"Being blind you should think like an engineer to problem solve so we put our minds to the task"
Mr Steve Hurd, Blind-since-birth Councillor

“Australia’s rapidly aging population and increasing incidence of diabetes means that vision-loss is likely to become one of the most prevalent disabilities in Australia,” he said.

“We can bring value to the enhancement of these systems in a myriad of ways, from our deep knowledge of the needs of the vision-impaired, to our ability to leverage our position affiliated with a top university to harness expertise in the medical, legal and engineering fields.”

Aside from hoping to collaborate on the research of driverless vehicles, CERA has also sought assistance from the City of Boroondara to generate awareness of the campaign – most notably in the form of blind-since-birth councillor Mr Steve Hurd.

Hurd has been named as an Honorary Fellow to help coordinate and lead the project, due to his strong community and government connections, and a background in various legal and advocacy positions.

"It will be the biggest boost for independence, employment prospects and social integration we have ever seen."

It is also a personal passion of his, having dreamed of driverless cars since fantasising and debating the idea with three vision impaired mates not long after another technological leap – the moon landing.

“We started breaking down the problems. Being blind you should think like an engineer to problem solve so we put our minds to the task. We realised some navigation system would be required, a radar system and a group of sensors would have to determine proximity,” Hurd said.

“Almost 50 years later that is exactly how Google, Tesla and others are solving the problem. Now, I am a councillor at the City of Boroondara and a fellow at the University of Melbourne working on a project to make sure autonomous cars are usable for vision-impaired people.

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“It will be the biggest boost for independence, employment prospects and social integration we have ever seen.”

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