“Breakthrough technologies such as Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles (AVs) can minimize human error and greatly improve driving safety for people with vision loss,” said Ronald Schuchard, Ph.D. FARVO, executive director of the ERI. “To our knowledge, however, no driving assistance system has been specifically designed or evaluated for drivers with vision loss, nor has there been any systematic investigation of the effects of ADAS or AVs on the safety of drivers who are blind or visually impaired. We are therefore delighted to offer Dr. Xu a postdoctoral research fellowship and to facilitate her investigation into the potential benefits and risks of these driving technologies.”
Dr. Xu is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University. She completed her Ph.D. in industrial engineering in August 2017 at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Alexandra Bowers, Ph.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School who specializes in mobility enhancement and vision rehabilitation, and Rui Ni, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Wichita State University who specializes in aging, driving and autonomous vehicles, will serve as her mentors. Dr. Xu’s research will focus on:
- Designing and evaluating a collision warning and assistance system to support hazard detection and avoidance for drivers with vision loss due to AMD; and
- Using a simulated driving experiment, investigating the effects of different levels of vehicle automation on hazard detection for drivers with vision loss due to AMD.
The ERI has established Envision as a hub of low vision and blind rehabilitation research and attracts fellows from around the world. It was created by Envision in 2013 to raise the standard for low vision and blind rehabilitation patient care and to remove barriers by investigating the functional implications of vision loss, early screening and access to treatments, optimizing rehabilitation therapies and developing accessibility technology. Postdoctoral fellowships at the ERI provide an educational and research environment where appointees identify solutions to improve the quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Dr. Xu is part of the fifth class of fellows to conduct studies at the Envision Research Institute. She joins Susanne Klauke Ph.D. and Marco Tarantino, J.D, the fourth class of fellows who are in their first years, as well as Güler Arsal, Ph.D. and Rajkumar Raveendran Ph.D., the third class of fellows who are both in their second years.
- Dr. Susanne Klauke’s project, sponsored by Pitt Plastics in Pittsburg, Kansas, investigates “Developing rehabilitation for interactions between visual impairment, voice recognition, social impairment and depression.”
- Tarantino’s project, sponsored by National Industries for the Blind in Alexandria, Virginia, studies “Experiences of Blind and Low Vision Individuals at Different Stages of the Employment Cycle as These Relate to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Regulations Implemented in 2014.”
- Dr. Arsal’s project, sponsored by ibMilwaukee in West Allis, Wisconsin, centers around “Navigation and Wayfinding Expertise of People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired.”
- Dr. Raveendran’s project, sponsored by LCI in Durham, North Carolina, focuses on “Non-Invasive Brain Stimulations & Visual Rehabilitation.”
Additional details about the ERI and its postdoctoral fellowship program can be found online at research.envisionus.com.
About Envision: Envision (www.envisionus.com) promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision. Founded in 1933, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Envision’s mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, visit www.envisionus.com.