Google’s Driverless Cars now Legal; Will They Help People With Vision Loss?

We never thought we would live to see the day when you wouldn’t need a human being to move a car, we thought we were the sole owners of the right to move and control machinery but we were wrong (or so it seems). All mighty Google has done the impossible, they have created a driverless car and what’s more amazing is that Google’s car is now legal to drive – in California.¹

When Google first presented their driverless car, the promotional video seemed too good to be true; in it you see a legally blind man who hasn’t driven a car in years being driven around town by a self-driving car getting groceries and other every day chores. Google has been testing these cars for almost two years now and according to their report, the cars have apparently recorded more hours without accidents than the average US driver. Shocking, I know.

How do these self-driving cars work? The vehicles use sensors, computer navigation and radars to scan their surroundings and make sure you get to your destination save and sound. Their reaction time is apparently on par with that of an average human driver and because they come equipped with a GPS you will never get lost.

Can you imagine the possibilities for people with vision loss?

Google co-founder, Sergey Brin has stated that self-driving cars could “transform lives and communities – providing transportation to those not currently served, increasing safety on the road, reducing or eliminating congestion, and turning parking into parkland”.

For patients suffering from Age-Related Macular Degeneration or any other debilitating eye disease this could be the difference between becoming a burden to society and remaining an active member of it. For now, the only possible ‘cure’ for AMD is an implanted mini telescope that helps patients regain their central vision; however, the technology is not for everyone. Prevention of AMD is still your best bet, and proper nutrition and vitamin supplements can do wonders for people at risk of AMD or in their early stages.

We often take for granted what mobility can do for us, we are used to having access to a somewhat effective transit system and cars and bikes. But for patients going through AMD, this car means hope.

For now we have to wait until laws and regulations are sorted out and for the car to be deemed safe in other provinces, states, cities and towns across this large world of hours.  Who knows, next time you buy a car it may very well be the last time you ever drive one.

Would you buy a self-driving car to take you around town? Do you think it’ll help AMD patients?


¹  http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/25/tech/innovation/self-driving-car-california/index.html

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