By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Design
Google has released a video of a blind man being perfectly at ease behind the wheel of one of the company's test vehicles.
Google, after spending years testing the technology behind their fully autonomous cars, is in the final stages of a regulatory process in Nevada that may soon make the vehicles street legal. But now comes the hard part: convincing an already wary public that it's perfectly safe to share the road with what is essentially a robot on wheels.
So with that in mind, Google has released a video of a blind man being completely at ease behind the wheel of one of the company's test vehicles. In the three minute clip, Steve Mahan, who is 95 percent blind, is shown seated comfortably as the rigged Toyota Prius carefully navigates the streets of Morgan Hill, California during a warm day back in January. Mahan "drove" (don't know whether that's technically accurate or not) the vehicle using a pre-determined route, doing some mundane things along he way like picking up his dry cleaning and ordering a burrito at a Taco Bell drive-thru.
The main point to all of this was to demonstrate just how seamlessly Google's navigation technology worked -- coordinating the whole experience so effortlessly that even a blind person can get around town without, in a literal sense, having to lift a finger.
"This is some of the best driving I've ever done," Mahan chuckled as he took a sharp turn on his way to the cleaners.
He's not the only one excited about the vehicle's potential to enable the disabled. Eric Bridges, the government affairs director for the American Council of the Blind (who's also blind), had a chance to ride one of the vehicles to Google headquarters last year and was impressed with how smooth the trip went.
"We had it out on the Interstate and allowed it to take over. It was pretty amazing, going in between lanes, making sure there was enough distance between us and the car next to us in another lane,” he told FoxNews.com.
To their credit, the search giant has made a concerted effort to be reassuringly transparent about the project. In October, project head Sebastian Thrun and Google engineer Chris Urmson gave a detailed presentation at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in San Francisco, where he discussed the ins and outs of how the self-driving technology worked.
[Click here to watch the video]
Still, Google has acknowledged that the technology was under development. On their web site, the company wrote, “There’s much left to design and test, but we've now safely completed more than 200,000 miles of computer-led driving, gathering great experiences and an overwhelming number of enthusiastic supporters.”
They've also well aware of the fact that any support for a project of this nature is tenuous and that the public and media will continue to scrutinize their efforts in the event of any mishaps. As much was evident back in August when an eyewitness spotted a collision involving a test car and another near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California. But the opportunity to completely transform transportation for the better is ultimately what motivates them to forge ahead.
"They’re helping to change the world in a lot of ways," Bridges said in an interview.
- Google pushes to legalize self-driving cars
- Google’s self-driving car gets a green light from Nevada
- Video: smart navigation system turns car dashboard into interactive 3-D display
- Video: a mind-controlled car
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Mar 29, 2012
I wish someone would invent a car that is energy efficient instead of all this waste:
I also canât believe on that a blind man can drive I want to see in reality!!
we can definitely call this affection towards the humanity. I just hope it turns out to be good for every one else as well. http://www.national.co.uk/branch-465-Luton.aspx
this also can't be possible untill i'll see in reality!!! http://www.sellyourcarfast.com.au/selling-a-car/
I agree with tinman. This is yet another case of typical media hype instead of sticking to the facts. The head line should have said - Robotic Chauffeurs for the Disabled ??? Cars like this would be a huge leap in providing personal transportation flexibility to many disabled who are chained to using public transportation, ride services or family members to do everyday tasks the rest of us take for granted. The author could have questioned a public official or transportation expert on the possibility of designating certain public handicapped parking spaces for robotic assist vehicles only, giving robotic assist vehicles access to HOV lanes or a dozen other relevant questions. The story is strong enough to stand on its own without hype. Nice try, but my journalism teacher would have given you a D for that article for poor execution of a great story.
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