Friday, 30 March 2012

Google's Self-Driving Car: The First Test Driver

It doesn't seem so long ago that we first got Internet access on our family computer, with the modem that was so slow that we couldn't even see any images, and we were still the most Web-enabled people in the neighbourhood.  But that was actually 20 years ago. Now we can order pizza on the Internet, even in my little burgh, the kids that I worked with in my last job know more about Facebook than I do, and supergiant Google's self-driving car technology may get people with low vision operating vehicles and on the roads like the rest of us.,2817,2402340,00.asp

There's a video on this page of the car in action. It's fascinating.

Google Strikes Again

Google didn't design its self-driving car, a Toyota Prius, explicitly for people with low vision. Google has plans for a far greater market share than that, I imagine. A self-driving car could reduce or eliminate accidents across all demographics, by eliminating the need to drive while fatigued or distracted. However, Google recently chose to ask a person with less than 5% of his vision to test drive one of the self-driving cars. The gentleman found the ride very enjoyable, and speculated on how a self-driving vehicle would greatly increase his independence.

The Self-Driving Car - Not Just for Blind People

The self-driving car wouldn't just benefit people whose disability is low vision. People who have low movement in their limbs or who have certain types of seizures may be able to benefit from self-driving car technology. Perhaps even people with hearing and/or speech impairments could benefit as well, but I'm not certain. I'd need to know more about how the car works.

At any rate, it's a fascinating development, and it will be interesting to see whether Google does choose to market the car heavily toward people with disabilities. Even though self-driving cars are currently legal in Nevada, the Google car still needs extensive testing. It won't be on the market for quite some time.

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