Self-driving car’s have been around for many years, though most of them could only complete set courses or travel in straight lines. Google has been working hard on its self-driving car, and reached a point in development at which the prototype is safe to be taken out on public roads and used for everyday tasks. What better thing to do with a self-driving car than give a man who lost 95% of his vision a ride out to Taco Bell?
The man who sat in the driver’s seat is Steve Mahan, CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center. Although he doesn’t have a driving license, Google acquired permission from the local police department for Mahan to “drive”. Self-driving cars have not been approved for general use in California yet, and, to solve this, the police put Sergeant Troy Hoefling in the car with Mahan during the trip.
Interestingly, in February 2012, Nevada approved the use of this technology for public road use. Other drivers will be able to identify self-driving cars, not only by the spinning laser on the roof, but by the color of the license plates.
This YouTube video shows Mahan enjoying the car, and is lovely to watch. It shows the miracle of modern technology, along with the heartwarming smile it can bring to the people who need it.
This video made me realise that a development in technology such as this, though incredible, shouldn’t be put on sale to the general public straight away. Vehicles like this should be tidied up a little (no cables along the roof), and offered to the blind, elderly, and disabled people. Most of us are fighting fit and capable of driving with ease. I know that my grandfather is getting on in his years, and he can barely walk without two sticks to keep him upright. Though it’s sad that technology like this won’t become available to him, I am sure it would be something he would buy immediately if he could.
Do you think cars like this should be prioritized to the elderly if they start being released commercially? Or should everyone be able to buy them at the same time?
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Sell them to everyone, which will bring the price down, which will make them more accessible to the blind, elderly, etc.
Free market economics for the win
Let anyone buy one. It seems obvious that everyone can’t operate an automobile safely. Could this allow us to amend traffic laws and driving lincensure? I can’t tell you how many times I have wished for this. I think eventually it will be standard equipment :-)
the advantage of a AI vs a human driver : no arrogance, road rage, ignorance, inpatiance, doubts, fear, distraction, tiredness and all other things that defined us as inteligent mamifere are not on our advantage sometimes. AI is our only salvation (or destruction) regardless how bugy and inaccurate the system is is still better than most people from this point of view.