Google’s self-driving car allows the blind to get behind the wheels

Steve Mahan, who is 95 per cent blind, takes Google’s self-driving car for a spin around Morgan Hill, California. (Youtube)

Web giant Google has created a self-driving car it claims will enable blind people to drive, according to a Daily Mail report this week.

The vehicle, which has already been taken for a test drive by a blind driver in a video released online, takes over nearly all the functions of the car currently controlled by humans.

The move has marked a landmark step in the Google project which has been several years in the making, and was officially unveiled in October 2010.
The video released earlier this week shows Steve Mahan, dubbed “Self-Driving Car User 0000000001,” using the car to carry out his daily routine.

“Mr. Mahan, who is 95 per cent blind, drives to buy a taco and pick up dry-cleaning - activities which may seem humdrum, but which are shut off to many blind people who do not have a companion or carer to accompany them,” the newspaper reported.

Although a lot more needs to be done before the cars can hit the road without the direct supervision of Google engineers, many have hailed it a success for the internet giant.

“The concept of it is pretty awesome,” Eric Bridges, a spokesman for the American Council of the Blind, told Fox News.

“They’re helping to change the world in a lot of ways,” Bridges added.

In the video, Mahan's test drive leaves him clearly pleased with the vehicle as he jokes: “Look ma, no hands... and no feet!”

At the end of the journey, he tells his passengers: “You guys get out, I've got places I have to go.”


(Written by Eman El-Shenawi)

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