Blind man tests out Google’s self-driving car

29 Mar 2012

Steve Mahan in Google's self-driving car

Google has let Steve Mahan, a man who has lost 95pc of his vision, test out one of its self-driving cars to showcase the possibilities of this new driving technology.

A video was posted on YouTube that shows Google staff members pick up Mahan from his home in one of these cars. Mahan sits behind the wheel during the entire trip while the car drives for him.

The car goes through a drive-through restaurant before heading to a dry cleaners and then back to Mahan’s home again.

According to Google, the test was organised on a “carefully programmed route” as both a technical experiment and a look at how self-driving cars could enable blind people to take advantage of cars.

“Ninety-five per cent of my vision is gone. I’m well past legally blind,” said Mahan in the video.

“You lose your timing in life. Everything takes you much longer. There are some places that you cannot go (to) and there are some things that you really cannot do.

“Where this would change my life is to give me the independence and the flexibility to go to places I both want to go and need to go when I need to do those things,” he said.

Self-driving technology

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has been envisioning the concept of a driverless car for some time now and has recently been awarded the US patent for the car.

The technology includes radar sensors, artificial intelligence and GPS video cameras to allow the car to navigate through the streets as safely as possible.

The technology will still need to meet rigorous technical and safety standards if it were ever to become a commercial reality.

In the meantime, take a look at the video of Mahan taking a spin in the driverless car.