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Transportation for the Blind

Getting from place to place can be a huge struggle for the blind. We are forced to rely on public transit, para-transit, or the kindness of a sighted >friend or family member.

Often times, public transit isn't very good, and when you get rides from other people, you have to do it on their schedule. It would be better if the blind were able to purchase their own cars and have those cars take them where they need to go.

Last week, Marc wrote about Google's self-driving car, and I wanted to offer a few more details along with my own thoughts on this technology.

In case you missed it, Google recently released a video showing Steve Mahan, a blind man "driving" Google's driverless car. In the video, the car takes Steve and his fellow sighted passengers to the Taco Bell drive through and even to Steve's dry cleaners. When he arrives at his dry cleaners, he gets out his cane to walk inside. He describes how amazing it is that the car is able to do all of this on its own and how freeing it would be to have this technology available to him. Here's a link to the video with audio description: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peDy2st2XpQ&feature=youtu.be

The project is still in its testing phase. To date, over 225 thousand miles have been driven with only minimal driver intervention, and over 1,000 miles have been driven with no driver intervention at all. The car uses different kinds of technology such as GPS and radar to evaluate its environment and drive safely and accurately. Right now, it is illegal to drive a self driving car in most parts of the US, but in Nevada there is now a law that will evaluate the best ways to ensure safety so that one day driverless cars could be legal on their streets.

As I said above, having a car that could drive me where I need to go would open numerous possibilities for me and anyone who couldn't drive due to a disability. It is my hope that over time, Google and other companies will be able to demonstrate that these vehicles are safe and that in fact they're safer than human drivers who are much more prone to error than a machine.

When they become legal, I hope to be an owner of this amazing technology. What would it mean to have access to your own car? What do you envision being able to do if you could go anywhere anytime? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Disclaimer:

This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.

Comments

thanks marc ;)

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