Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Driverless Cars: The Future of Independence

How often have you heard people over sixty say that they can no longer drive after dark? How many accidents have been caused by aging drivers with failing vision or people becoming distracted behind the wheel?  With a rapidly aging population and dwindling budgets for public transportation, viable transportation solutions for people with disabilities will be in great demand and will become a necessity.  With new technological developments, driverless cars may be the solution to the problem. 

By utilizing GPS, the cars would be able to map out routes and special sensors would detect when objects are in front or back of the car.  Each car would have accessibility in mind for aging and disabled drivers. Braille, large print, or talking software would be included so that any driver could successfully operate the vehicle.  For security purposes, cars could require a personal code or password, which would allow only certain drivers to operate the car.  The car’s computer would ask the driver for a destination and the rest could be taken care of by speed-sensing radar and unique software. If there was oncoming traffic, the computer would know to slow down so that accidents would no longer occur.

Just imagine the sense of freedom getting in to your own car and it driving you to your desired destination. Our aging population would be spared yearly eye exams to prove they can still drive.  The worry of being totally dependent on family members or para-transit would disappear.  It would break down barriers; no longer would we use the excuse in applying for jobs, of “I cannot get there.”  The NFB, Naas, Google, and car-makers are seriously working to develop a driverless car in the U.S. and across the globe.  Moreover, everyone, disabled or not, would benefit from these cars.  The issue of distracted driving will become irrelevant. Drivers will become passengers as they sit back listening to music, conducting business, or surfing the internet while being transported to their destination.

In 2070 and beyond, these cars will be common and accidents will be rare, because all cars will sense all objects behind and in front of them. They will be everywhere, and as common computers are now in 2010.  This invention will give everyone a now-undreamed-of sense of independence.

What an exciting future for our children and grand children.  I do hope to see the start of this new revolution in my lifetime.

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