Driving Blind – in Google’s Robot Prius

Google solves blind driving puzzle - and imagine the implications for drink drivers

Google solves blind driving puzzle with robot Prius

Is Skynet just around the corner? To celebrate 320,000km of safe driving in the USA, the Google Robot Prius has taken blind man Steve Mahan in the so-called driver’s seat from his home to a Morgan Hill, California, Taco Bell for lunch. And - importantly - back. Safely.

Mahan sits in the driver’s seat while the Google robot Prius steers, accelerates and brakes using a combination of laser and radar sensors to handle the navigation and the traffic.

The car successfully took Mr Mahan through the Taco Bell drive-through and then to the drycleaners, demonstrating a huge possible step forward for the mobility of blind and otherwise disabled people could be just around the corner. Imagine what it could mean for drink driving in the future – if you’ve had too much alcohol to drive, the car could take over…

The next big hurdle? The law – blind, drunk and some disabled people are legally prevented from driving, regardless of whether or not the car is autonomous. And, if it all goes horribly wrong, who is liable if you’re ‘driving’ and the robot crashes?