Steve Mahan recently took a routine drive out to pickup some dry cleaning and some Taco Bell in his hometown of Morgan Hill, California. Oh, I forgot to mention. Steve also happens to be 95% blind.
Back in 2010, Google announced that they had developed groundbreaking technologies that enabled cars to drive autonomously. By utilizing an assortment of video cameras, radar sensors, and lasers, these special cars can map out their route and adjust accordingly to the conditions of the road. Ultimately, Google hopes that the project will solve three major, global problems: energy consumption, traffic accidents, and traffic congestion.
Say what you want about how Google is trying to do everything beyond their search engine roots, but the Mountain View company is definitely ambitious when it comes to their projects.
On a post today on Google+ (Google+? People still use that thing?), the company announced that they had completed over 200,000 miles of automated driving, with “an overwhelming number of enthusiastic supporters.”
Anyone know if I can sign up as a beta tester?
In the post, Google also shared a video of Steve Mahan, head of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, sitting behind a wheel of a self-driving Toyota Prius.
According to Google:
We organized this test as a technical experiment outside of our core research efforts, but we think it’s also a promising look at what this kind of technology may one day deliver for society if rigorous technical and safety standards can be met.
“This is some of the best driving I’ve ever done,” Mahan quipped during the ride. “Look, ma! No hands. And no feet!”
Google is still probably years away from a public release of their technology. Besides the countless traffic standards and laws that the company must overcome, who knows how long it will take for people to warm up to the idea of letting their cars drive themselves.