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Inclusive mobility: training engineers to remove barriers to accessibility

2 December 2021

ESTACA encourages its students to reflect on and conduct projects for people with reduced mobility, thus contributing to an inclusive society. On the occasion of the World Disability Day, let’s take a closer look at 2 projects: the ESTACA Sailing association is working on converting a trimaran to promote access to sailing for all, and the ESTACA’LAB research center is designing a kart-driving system for people with visual impairment.

Sailing for all! A trimaran for people of reduced mobility

ESTACA Sailing, the nautical association of ESTACA in Saint Quentin en Yvelines, continues its commitment to parasports and wishes to promote access to sailing for all!  For several years, members of the association have been working on converting a trimaran to make it easier to handle. The 6.72m x 4.80m boat, with a special mast, sail and daggerboard, has been operational since March 2021 and can accommodate up to 5 people on board.

A dozen students are currently working on a new seat system that will enable a person with reduced mobility (paraplegic, for example) to move from one hull to another in complete safety with a support system. The team has given itself one year to install this system and test the boat with the goal of participating in regattas. The team would like to take part in the Spi Ouest-France Banque Populaire Grand Ouest, the largest sailing event in France reserved for habitable boats.

« Our main objective is to enable a child or a disabled adult to sail this boat, accompanied by a nurse or an able-bodied person if necessary, to experience the pleasure of sailing, adjusting sails, and gliding on the water. The idea is also to give disabled people the ability to maneuver and steer the boat actively. »
Louis Caillaud
President of the ESTACA Sailing student association.

Several partners are involved in this project: Air Océan, owner of the Trimaran, lends it to the students, entrusting them to adapt and operate the boat. The company ADH Inotec provides its expertise to renovate the boat and change the mast and sails, as well as others such as the association Vagdespoir or Outil Océan who provide a financial and material contribution. ESTACA Sailing is also in contact with the Ile de France parasport committee, the Mallet Foundation, to get members of the committee and patients of the Mallet Foundation sailing.

A kart that can be driven by people who are visually impaired

For several years, the ESTACA’LAB research center has been designing a system that can be used to drive a kart by people with a visual impairment. The system sends a real-time sound signal to enable the driver manage the track trajectory.

The kart determines its position on the track and the turns by means of a camera and/or a GPS which measures its direction and detects the turns. This information determines the sound signal sent to the driver. In order to measure the vehicle’s direction as accurately as possible, Quentin Ladurée, a student on a work-study program at the research center, is developing an algorithm used in an onboard mini-computer.

The project is currently in the simulation testing stage. First year students at ESTACA are also working on the project to test the system and provide intial feedback with various possible sounds by alternating the frequency and the volume before further tests are planned with visually impaired people. The objective is threefold: to raise students’ awareness of research and disabilities and to test the system on a computer driving simulation before deploying it.

Currently, there are two-seater karts that allow people with visial impairments to learn how to drive. ESTACA’LAB is in contact with several associations and hopes to be able to offer a reliable simulation during 2022 to move on to the real test phase on a kart which will evenually allow visually impaired people to discover the pleasures of driving in complete autonomy.

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