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Israeli researchers develop AI route planning system for blind pedestrians

(Xinhua)    09:13, August 13, 2020

Israeli researchers have developed an innovative mapping system for blind pedestrians, the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) said on Wednesday.

This artificial intelligence (AI) system is designed to improve the lives of the blind in terms of mobility, accessibility and independence.

As part of the study, published in the journal "Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science", Technion researchers have developed software for calculating walking routes tailored to the needs of the blind for safe spatial orientation.

The software weights environmental and semantic data important for the blind, focusing on safe, accessible and easy-to-navigate routes.

The study included deep learning, observations, and interviews with orientation and mobility instructors, as well as with blind people.

This has led to a clear definition of spatial criteria, best expressing aspects of mobility, accessibility and safety, based on the route's geometric complexity, type, purpose, length and landmarks.

Additional features have been integrated into the system, providing accessibility to crosswalks and traffic lights.

The new system has been successfully tested in several locations, with blind volunteers saying that in most cases the route chosen by the system was more accessible and safer than the route calculated by commercial popular software.

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