Feature Writer Alena Roberts – I’d Rather Have a Car Drive Me, Than Drive While Blind

Driving has to be one of the most visual things you can do, so most days if you asked me if I’d like to be able to drive while blind, I’d say no.  This feeling is not because I don’t think that technology should be created to allow a blind person to drive, but rather I don’t believe the added stress of operating a vehicle when I can’t see my surroundings would be worth having access to a car. Instead, I would rather own a vehicle that drove me, and thanks to researchers at Yale, that possibility may be closer than we thought.

One of the reasons why we don’t already have cars that drive themselves is because it’s really difficult to mimic human sight, but a prototype of a super computer may have finally mastered this challenge. The NeuFlow, as it’s being called by its creators, is a super computer that is able to process its surroundings in real time just like the human eye. It is able to accomplish 100 billion calculations per second, and it fits on one single chip, which means it should be easy to put it into cars and other robotic machines.

To me, having cars that drive themselves comes with multiple benefits outside of giving the blind access to better transportation. For one, cars would become immediately safer because an emotional human wouldn’t be operating them anymore. Part of the added stress of operating a vehicle that was designed to be driven by the blind would be worrying about other drivers. If all cars drove themselves, then everyone could enjoy their rides in the car. Computer-driven cars would also follow all traffic laws which would likely mean far fewer accidents. Finally, commuters would have the option of doing something productive on their way to work, and would likely be less stressed because they didn’t have to worry about focusing on they’re driving. I think all these benefits could come from having a much better public transit system, but since I know how attached people are to their cars, then I hope the driverless car is in our near future.

What are your thoughts? Do you hope that one day the blind will drive, or would you rather have a car drive you instead?

2 Comments

  1. Personally, I would feel safer in a car that could drive me around. That being said, even the best computers will malfunction from time to time. if that happens, where does that leave us? How will we know if the computer stops working? And if we do know that something is wrong, what then? It’s not like we’ll be able to pull off to the side of the road if the computer is broken.

  2. Self driving cars would bring so much to people with visual impairments. I’m sure some would be nervous about adopting such tech so why not incorporate these super computers into a pedestrian guide. I played with the idea a few years ago:
    http://reidmymind.com/?p=33