Yvonne Carts-Powell

Twofer: No Drivers, Blind Drivers

In technology on February 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm


Image by swanny338 at Morguefile

People drive like maniacs.

Okay, not all people, and not all the time. Nevertheless, driving is a perilous activity. In the US, over 30,000 people are killed every year. Also, we’ve got a chunk of the population that drives while distracted, and another chunk of the population whose vision and reaction times are slowing. If we do nothing, the number of accidents and fatalities will only grow.

One strategy — and a very good one — is to make mass transit options available (by which I include affordability and ease of use) to many more people. But assuming that personal car ownership remains the gold standard, and that people want to drive themselves, then why not change the cars?

One alternative is to increase the autopiloting capabilities of cars. Don’t take control away from drivers, but give them tools to aid with driving. MIT Technology Review has an article on “advanced driver assistance systems”: Europe’s Driverless Car by Russ Juskalian.

Another alternative is to add different types of tools to allow more people to drive. The technology exists — and was demonstrated at the Daytona 500 last year — that provides all the information necessary to allow blind people to drive cars. See High-Tech Car Allows the Blind to Drive | Autopia | Wired.com. An engineer who worked on the technology at Virginia Tech tells me that the major barrier is social and political rather than technological.

We cannot just innovate our way out of the problem, but there’s a clear path where technical changes are making a difference. Now: will we make the social changes necessary to allow the changes to keep more of us alive and healthy?

  1. […] Image by swanny338 at Morguefile Two new items, adding on to my previous post about the evolution (and need for) robot-driven cars: […]

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