On October 30, 2012, CNN Tech reported on test driving of Google's self-driving car in California. This is the week that California's Governor Brown signed the autonomous-vehicles bill into law. The bill, SB 1298, will set up procedures and requirements for determining when the cars are road-ready. Google is hoping these vehicles will be road-ready within 5 years. Can you imagine? People with disabilities that cannot drive will be able to have the freedom and independence to go where they want, when they want. Obviously, this is a boon for people with vision issues, but it will also open up the world for people with executive function deficits. People with executive function deficits have great difficulty following steps and knowing when to do things. So, driving a car may be out of their reach at this time. Now, you may say, why not just take public transportation? If you are lucky enough to live in a city with public transportation, this is a transportation method we should all consider. However, people with severe anxiety or autism may not be able to cope with the noise, the number of people, the social situation, etc. So, they stay home instead of going where they might want to go. With a self-driving car, these people will now have choices. They can live in a more remote area because they will have a means of commuting into town. They can go to a friend's house and not worry about when public transportation is available. Imagine this: You wake up and decide you want to go to your favorite restaurant across town for breakfast. You call into a car service that sends a car with no driver to pick you up, take you to the restaurant, wait for you, and brings you home. OR maybe on the way home you decide to stop at your favorite book store. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all have these choices? If you had a self-driving car, what would you do differently? For more info on how the car actually works, click here. To see a demonstration of the car, click here.
Update: Check out the NPR report from February 3, 2014 which states that the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking steps to make it mandatory for vehicles to talk to each other. This takes us one step closer to self-driving cars.