[Nfbmo] Fwd: BBC E-mail: Blind drivers at the steering wheel

Bryan Schulz b.schulz at sbcglobal.net
Tue Apr 23 03:25:03 UTC 2013


thanks, can't comment for obvious reasons.
Bryan Schulz

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Julie McGinnity" <kaybaycar at gmail.com>
To: "NFB of Missouri Mailing List" <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2013 10:03 PM
Subject: [Nfbmo] Fwd: BBC E-mail: Blind drivers at the steering wheel

> Hi all, I saw this article through another list and thought you might
> find it interesting.  I copied and pasted most of the article to make
> things easier for you all, but I recommend you look on the actual site
> if you're curious because the article was broken up with pictures and
> links to other articles in it.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Julie <kaybaycar at gmail.com>
> Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 03:45:02 +0100
> Subject: BBC E-mail: Blind drivers at the steering wheel
> To: kaybaycar at gmail.com
> ** Blind drivers at the steering wheel  **
> Innovations in automated driving have led to speculation that blind
> people may be able to take to the wheel. But do they want to drive?
> < http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/magazine-21720318 >
> Innovations in automated driving have led to speculation that blind
> people may be able to take to the wheel. But do they want to drive -
> and could it become a reality?
> How would you feel if a blind person pulled up next to you in a car?
> This time last year, Google released a video showing a blind man
> driving a car. He was seen going to a local drive-through restaurant
> near his home in San Jose, California, and later collecting dry
> cleaning without any difficulty.
> Steve Mahan, the driver, heads the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center and
> hadn't been in the driver's seat of a car since giving up his licence
> eight years earlier after losing 95% of his sight. On this occasion,
> the only action he performed was to press a start button. He couldn't
> control the car independently, but the video showed an intent to make
> driving more accessible and safe for everyone.
> "I'm finding there's a lot of buzz, a lot of people in the blind
> community talking about driverless cars," says Mahan.
> "In America, getting a driver's licence is a rite of passage. It
> represents being able, having the liberty to go where you want to go.
> Cars and car ownership are important parts of a sense of independence
> and personal power."
> Public transport isn't very developed in the US, so being carless can
> leave you isolated and could contribute to problems such as
> unemployment. Because of this, cars can provoke a very emotional
> response among blind people, says Mahan. "We have had clients that
> will just go out and sit in the vehicles they used to drive and turn
> the motor on, just to be behind the wheel."
> improve road safety - people get distracted but computers don't
> Vehicles that can do simple tasks such as park themselves are already
> on the market
> Companies such as Google are testing driverless technology (pictured
> above in Washington DC)
> Engineers at the University of Oxford have developed a car that drives
> itself on familiar routes - and want permission to try it on public
> roads
> Mahan, 60, believes blind people will be driving in his lifetime and,
> after experiencing several journeys in the Google car, says he'd be
> confident enough to use one now if it had talking controls.
> Others are much more sceptical.
> "I would be surprised if in the next five years these products will
> reach market and we'd be legally allowed to drive," says Hugh Huddy, a
> campaigns officer at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, and
> who is himself blind.
> The technology may be heading in one direction, but there are other
> barriers to the prospect of blind people driving - namely lawmakers
> and other road users.
> Google has been successful in lobbying the states of Nevada,
> California and Florida, all of which have now passed laws to allow the
> testing of automated cars on their roads. It doesn't follow that
> people with sight loss will automatically be granted a licence,
> though.
> Huddy is concerned about insurance and liability.
> "If someone is involved in an accident, a human being could run in
> front of the car, or a load could fall off a lorry, and the technology
> probably would not save you from being in a collision," he says.
> What would a world of driverless cars be like? Safer roads, say some.
> In the US alone, driver error - weaving out of the lane, drink driving
> and distracted driving, for example - is a factor in at least 60% of
> fatal crashes.
> "Your automated car isn't sitting around getting distracted," says
> Danny Sullivan, who has taken a two-minute ride in Google's car on a
> closed course.
> "It's not looking down to change the radio and looking up and noticing
> all the cars have stopped. When the car is on self-driving mode, it
> doesn't speed, it doesn't cut you off, it doesn't tailgate."
> It evokes nightmare scenarios of people who can't see, sitting in a
> metal box oblivious to the fact that a truck may be bearing down on
> them, or wondering what that soggy sounding chassis-shaking bump may
> have been.
> Google's automated cars have already travelled 300,000 miles and
> caused no accidents. This is said to be safer than the average driver.
> Ingmar Posner, an engineer at the mobile robotics group at the
> University of Oxford, is part of an engineering team working on a car
> that will be able to take the strain off the driver with partial
> automation.
> "Imagine one day on the M25 you're trying to go from A to B. A light
> will come on your dashboard and say, 'I know exactly where I am, we've
> driven this stretch of road loads of times. If you like, I can take
> over for the next 500m.'"
> Cars that can do smaller functions, such as control a car in traffic
> jams, keep you inside lane markings or auto-park, are already on the
> road or about to come to market courtesy of Toyota, Mercedes, BMW and
> others.
> Posner believes his car could affordably reach the showrooms in 10 or
> 15 years, but that a fully blind person still wouldn't be able to
> drive it. He believes partially automated cars like his will help to
> make it possible for some impairments to be eliminated as barriers to
> driving.
> "The thing I'm envisioning is that visual aids in your field of vision
> could highlight the lane markings for people who find night driving
> difficult," he says. "You also get pedestrian detection in cars these
> days so the edges [of disability and ability] will start to get
> blurred."
> Lots of people will need convincing that someone with no sight should
> be allowed to pilot a road vehicle independently. Mahan thinks a
> gradual creep of automated features will lay the foundations for blind
> drivers to become acceptable.
> "What will happen is they will not get comfortable with blind people
> driving, they will get comfortable with the capabilities of
> self-driving cars that sighted people will be using."
> He points out that, even if it does occur, cars still won't be the
> answer to all his way-finding challenges.
> "There will still be a difficulty getting out of the car and finding
> your way to a front door of where you're headed, once it has parked
> itself," he says.
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> -- 
> Julie McG
> National Association of Guide dog Users board member,  National
> Federation of the Blind performing arts division secretary,
> Missouri Association of Guide dog Users President,
> and Guiding Eyes for the Blind graduate 2008
> "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that
> everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal
> life."
> John 3:16
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