On Wednesday, Google released this video showing Steve Mahan navigating the streets of Morgan Hill, Calif., from behind the wheel of a Toyota Prius. Mahan stops at a taco shop for a bite, and then swings by the laundromat before heading back home.
Mahan is the head of the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center. He has lost 95 percent of his vision, making him legally blind. Mahan's disability precludes him from getting a license to operate a moving automobile ... but Google hopes to change that.
For years Google has been developing the technology to make driverless cars a reality. They use lasers, radar sensors, cameras, GPS and other tools to make these sophisticated automobiles aware of variables like surrounding cars, weather conditions and traffic signs.
Google first patented the auto-driving technology in 2011, and has been working on it since 2008. This has involved some under-the-radar testing on California roadways, a risky move since there were no laws to confirm the legality of the operation.
In February, Google got the official green light to try the self-driving technology on public roads when Nevada became the first state to approve regulations for testing driverless cars.
Now, Google is the leading innovator for driverless technology.
Don't expect to see driverless cars on the market anytime soon; a statement from Google admits that there's much left to design and test. But with more than 200,000 miles of automated driving logged already, it is well on the way to ironing out the kinks.
We organized this test as a technical experiment outside of our core research efforts, but we think it's also a promising look at what this kind of technology may one day deliver for society if rigorous technical and safety standards can be met, added the statement.
Fortin is the IBTimes Africa Correspondent based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She joined IBT in February of 2012, and has previously worked as an editor and reporter for...