We've talked about autonomous vehicles a lot in the past year or so, and as gearheads it's hard not to get wrapped up in the more negative aspects of the technology.
If you love driving, the prospect of cars that drive themselves is a grim one. Driving is a skill you work hard to acquire, and perfect, and above all, it's fun. We don't want that liberty taken away.
But hang on a second--what about those that don't like driving, but have no choice? Perhaps even more pertinent, what about people like Steve Mahan, 95 percent blind, but still with a desire to have personal mobility? Google's autonomous car starts looking a little more relevant.
It's undoubtedly odd to watch the car negotiating Steve's neighborhood without him touching the controls, and would no doubt be even more surreal from the driving seat. It stops at stop signs, steers smoothly around bends and even takes Steve and his friends from Google to the local drive-thru.
In the past, we've even seen Google's car negotiate an autocross course. In total, Google's autonomous Prius has now done over 200,000 miles of computer-led driving.
Blind driver Steve Mahan in Google's Self-Driving Toyota Prius, March 2012Enlarge Photo
You could just dismiss the video as Google propaganda, a tool by which to sell its technology.
But it's still heartwarming to see that in the coming decades, even those who may no longer be able to drive will still have the simply joy and freedom of owning their own cars.
We still want to drive our own cars, that's for sure--but we can also appreciate the incredible technology and vision behind autonomous vehicles.