The device, which Toyota says will help fill in the gap left by canes, dogs and basic GPS devices, is designed to be worn around a user’s shoulders and equipped with cameras to detect their surroundings and communicate the information to them through sound or vibration.
“Project BLAID is one example of how Toyota is leading the way to the future of mobility, when getting around will be about more than just cars. We want to extend the freedom of mobility for all, no matter their circumstance, location or ability,” Toyota NA chief administrative officer Simon Nagata said in prepared remarks.
The system will be designed to inform users of important points such as restrooms, escalators, stairs and doors in indoor spaces like office buildings and shopping malls, Toyota said. Users will be able to interact with the device through speech and physical buttons.
“Toyota is more than just the great cars and trucks we build; we believe we have a role to play in addressing mobility challenges, including helping people with limited mobility do more. We believe this project has the potential to enrich the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired,” Toyota partner robotics manager Doug Moore said in a press release.
Toyota said it is launching an employee engagement campaign to collect videos of common indoor landmarks to be used to “teach” the device to recognize those landmarks.