Blind racer gets Cruise support, but he’ll drive

Marketing

Cruise is sponsoring a blind man’s attempt to set a world speed record as a way to promote the potential for autonomous-vehicle technology to help visually impaired people get around more easily.

Race car driver Dan Parker, who lost his sight in 2012, aims to break the Guinness World Record for “fastest speed for a car driven blindfolded.” The record of 200.5 mph belongs to Mike Newton of the United Kingdom.

“The future of autonomous vehicles is making the world more accessible for blind drivers like Dan, who want to be able to get around in the world on their own terms,” Rob Grant, Cruise’s senior vice president of government affairs and social impact, said in a statement.

“Transportation remains one of the areas where blind Americans face the greatest obstacles to participation, and Cruise’s mission is to transform the problems in our current transportation system that aren’t accessible or inclusive by creating new opportunities for all.”

But Parker won’t be in an autonomous vehicle during his attempt to break the record.

He’ll be driving his 800-hp Chevrolet Corvette, which has a custom guidance system that provides audible feedback. He is the first blind person to independently drive a vehicle 50 mph, 100 mph and 150 mph, according to the National Federation of the Blind, which is promoting Parker’s effort as part of its ongoing Blind Driver Challenge.

“Of course, for me the blindfold will not be necessary,” Parker said. “My 2008 Corvette is a purpose-built race car and I designed every aspect of it. With the work of the Blind Driver Challenge, we will not only demonstrate that a blind person can drive a vehicle safely, but that we can do it at over 200 mph. Together we hope to inspire blind people and to demonstrate our capacity, make history by setting a new world record and show the potential of new technology like self-driving cars to help blind people break barriers in everyday mobility.”

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