Autonomous cars have been gaining a lot of headlines recently with all of their testing and new state laws being enacted to allow their testing. One of the forerunners in this technology is, of all companies, Google. Google has been in the autonomous car testing project since 2010 and has logged more than 200,000 miles of automated driving.

That’s not the impressive thing, as Google recently had its first ever non-Google-employed test driver. To boot, this driver only has about 5% of his vision remaining. That’s right, Steve Mahan, this brave blind man, took a Toyota Prius fitted with Google’s automated driving doodads and went out for a spin.

Now, if you were legally blind and were driving for the first time in many years, where would you go? Maybe you would head to a nice restaurant, to visit relatives, or even to a friend’s house. Nope, not Steve, he immediately rode in the driver’s seat of this automated Prius to the nearest Taco Bell drive-thru, maybe that’s all Google has left in its testing budget for these cars. He grabbed a Taco, then headed off to pick up some dry cleaning.

The car performed well and Steve seems very happy to be in the driver’s seat again. He even added in the obligatory “Look mom, no hands” joke. The only thing we could see that this Prius did poorly was park, as it seemed to be parked at an angle when it stopped at the dry cleaners and when Steve parked it in his driveway.

Autonomous cars are cool, but will people ever warm up to them? We would be pretty nervous about the chances of the computer suddenly crashing and deciding to run the car head-on into traffic. Then again, if Toyota fills the Prius with foam during an accident, like Demolition Man, you’d never have to worry about getting hurt.


Source: Google

Justin Cupler
Justin Cupler
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  (365) posted on 06.26.2012

Not everything that involves high technology basically means that it can do no error. We should still be cautious with the use of this.

  (406) posted on 06.25.2012

I’m not confident like him. Maybe if I were in his position, I might quit on that test drive.

  (224) posted on 06.22.2012

For sure, technology really solves everything now.

  (542) posted on 06.21.2012

What an amazing incredible technology they have installed in that car. Actually, I thought it was an impossible for a blind to drive a car, but now look on what they have invented.

  (194) posted on 06.20.2012

I still worry for it might go dysfunctional.

  (683) posted on 06.18.2012

Even if it assisted by the newest and latest technology, they should be more careful and what if the system lag or crash? Will car do the same?

  (830) posted on 06.15.2012

I also still think that he needs someone with him inside that car.

  (441) posted on 05.17.2012

As long as he’s “driving” and inside the car, I guess he’s technically safe.

  (466) posted on 05.13.2012

It probably is easy for him to “drive” it, but I’m still wary of its efficiency. It would be harder if a blind man gets tangled in an accident.

  (553) posted on 05.10.2012

It seems like the legally blind man fully trusts it. I think he still needs a companion though when he’s out for a “drive” like this.

  (484) posted on 05.2.2012

This is unbelievable; advanced technology can really do a lot of astounding things. However, unless this is proven 100%, I think I wouldn’t be able to rely on it fully.

  (714) posted on 04.4.2012

My opinion is cut into two halves, to be precise. Of course, this is highly convenient and helpful for people with disabilities (heck, even to lazy people) that’s why I find it excellent. But the thing is, it fully depends on a computer, which is not totally free from malfunction.

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