Do you consider yourself a driving enthusiast? If so, does the thought of handing control of your car over to a series of computers scare you to death? We understand. But perhaps it's time to remember that those of us who love to drive aren't the only ones who want to use the road.

As you'll see in the video after the break, autonomous cars hold out hope for some men and women who are simply unable to drive themselves. Take, for instance, Steve Mahan, who lost 95 percent of his vision over the course of several years, leaving him clinically blind. Obviously, Mahan isn't able to drive.

What Mahan can do, however, is sit behind the wheel of an autonomous car, in this case, a Toyota Prius converted to operate sans driver by Google. And when he does, he directs the car to take him to Taco Bell before picking up his dry cleaning.

Questionable food choice aside, we hope that one day in the not-too-distant future people like Steve Mahan will be able to regain the kind of mobility made possible by the automobile that most of us take for granted. Just so long as we can share the road in our old-fashioned drive-it-yourself cars, too. See the video after the break.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      starrizerx
      • 2 Years Ago
      Questions: 1. How does the car know to park in the handicapped space? 2. How does the car know where to pull into the guy's driveway when it returns home? 3. How does the car know where the actual drive-thru is within the Taco Bell parking lot?
        desinerd1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @starrizerx
        Answer: Just like the car knows the road, the lanes, speed limits etc. Using the camera; and computers to interpret the images
          Justin
          • 2 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          I dont know if that would explain how the car would know where to stop to pay and where to stop to pick up the food. There are no obvious images in some cases.
      Classic_Engr
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm all for autonomous cars so long as their use is limited to street traffic and the rightmost lanes on highways. This would allow for a graduated licensing system. This is just an idea... Imagine it's the year 2035, and metropolitan populations have increased another 15% worldwide: Newbie with basic driver's ed? You get an introductory autonomous car license that only allows limited driving. Chasing tail lights in traffic isn't really driving anyway. Non-enthusiasts could play with their iPad instead. Experienced enthusiast driver who graduated a higher-level training course? You get a higher level license allowing you to drive yourself and giving access to the left lanes. Just an idea.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Classic_Engr
        [blocked]
      erjhe
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'll admit, this is an application of the autonomous car that I never thought of and it makes perfect sense. Is an autonomous car for me? No, hopefully never. Will it benefit other people? Unquestionably.
        SloopJohnB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @erjhe
        Yes, it's a benefit to the disabled. However, it does nothing to remove cars from the road. In fact, it adds cars to the road. We should be working on ways to remove bad, aggressive, incapacitated, or just plain stupid drivers from the road, not adding to the problem with autonomous crip cars. Yeah yeah...that's Politically Incorrect. So be it.
          doejoe7hiya
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          @Sloop - Your own logic works against you. "We should be working on ways to remove bad, aggressive, incapacitated, or just plain stupid drivers from the road" <--- This is what autonomous cars are doing!! :-s
          Moreno636
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          Why can't it be both? Getting bad drivers of the road would create more space for competent autocars which are going to be far less prone to getting into an accident. Google has chosen to deal with one side of the equation, nobody is stopping any body from tackling the other side.
      schattig84
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can it make sure they got the order right?
      EB110Americana
      • 2 Years Ago
      2:14am Eastern Time, August 4, 1997: Skynet becomes self aware. 3:17pm Eastern Time, March 30, 2012: The machines retaliate against humanity by giving them diarrhea.
      matthew
      • 2 Years Ago
      This would significantly reduce DUI especially for me!
        Dick Armada
        • 2 Years Ago
        @matthew
        You can still get a DUI because you are still considered the driver
      David S.
      • 2 Years Ago
      "But perhaps it's time to remember that those of us who love to drive aren't the only ones who want to use the road." One day we'll be looking back and struggling to remember the days when roads were only for people who loved to drive.
      Alex Fischer
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love driving, but I'd love not driving a lot too. Once these get to the point where you don't have to pay attention anymore, its gonna be awesome. Road trips would be no big deal.
      SPcamert
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've said it before and will extol it until the end of time...a benevolent dictatorship led by Google could definitely benefit us all.
      lingenfelter
      • 2 Years Ago
      How does it work? I hope it's secure enough that I can't yell in the open window "take me to California!" while Steve Mahan is getting his big box meal.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lingenfelter
        [blocked]
      BipDBo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Google decided to show off their technology by filming a blind man making a run for the border? What's next? Is Honda going to show off Asimo escorting this guy to the toilet? I doubt that the planning of this publicity stunt got any input from marketing.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        To be clear, I'm not putting into question showing how it could help a blind man. That was rather clever. It's the Taco Bell that seems odd to me. Perhaps they could have had him drive somewhere more meaningful like to his grand-daughter's graduation.
          flychinook
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          A graduation would not have shown off the technology as well. For the vehicle to stop at both the menu board and the appropriate window(s) is actually pretty impressive. I've seen quite a few people who mess that up.
          imoore
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          Nothing odd here. It's called product placement and pre-arranged settings. What's going on here is Google and Taco Bell are using a program that has the closest Taco Bell near this man loaded into the the car's memory, and the man simply just tells the car where to go. For Taco Bell, its a gold mine of publicity. Once it's perfected, other companies will want in on this. Can you say Wal-Mart?
      doejoe7hiya
      • 2 Years Ago
      I can't wait for the day where this will be 100% reality. I love cars, everything about them, but do I love driving? No. Completely different things. Am I an enthusiast driver? No. Who is? I am a car enthusiast though. On the so called enthusiast driver's daily commute do they really enjoy driving? I seriously doubt it. They get annoyed at traffic, at the new driver, at the slow driver, at the bad driver. How can they enjoy driving in traffic, driving with others, and driving in city roads? Now mountain driving, closed course, and track driving I understand but there is nothing enjoyable about city driving. So seriously guys give it a break. In normal city driving you can't use your cars abilities and if you are using them then you are probably breaking the law and putting others in danger. In normal day to day life the driver needs to be removed 100% from the driving for this to work properly and to reap all of the benefits of a smart driving system.
        HydraulicDragon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @doejoe7hiya
        I do delivery for a living and I enjoy driving. Every. Single. Second. Everywhere. I am an enthusiast not just for cars, but for living with them. When you find a good machine, you will bond with it. Until then, enjoy your Buick.
        ZenDriver
        • 2 Years Ago
        @doejoe7hiya
        Please speak for yourself. Just because YOU don't love driving and YOU can't use your cars abilities within the speed limit doesn't mean other can't. And no, that doesn't mean putting others in danger. I can drive enthusiastically without ever breaking the posted limit. Your blanket statements are too absolute and don't consider the variables that make up what you call "traffic". Most driving enthusiasts enjoy driving in light to middle weight traffic, and know how to keep a steady pace without fuming, tailgating, nor cutting other people off. But NO ONE enjoys crawling in heavy traffic--especially people who hate cars. So... Autonomous cars for heavy traffic and non-driving enthusiasts? Fine. Force autonomous cars down everyones throat? That will never happen.
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