Several developed countries and corporate enterprises including technology as well as automotive firms have pledged billions in funds for developing autonomous technology. This could prove to be a boon for the specially challenged as the advocates for Blind people have argued that self driving vehicles can change the lives of this section of society who must have left hopes of living and travelling on their own terms.
The revolution for self-driving vehicles holds a special promise for this segment of people who have joined the automakers and technology companies in lobbying congress to promote the roll out of self-driving vehicles. A legislation regarding this advocates special concerns for the blind and states the need of accessibility in car design and changes in the laws that prevent the blind from even getting in the driver’s seat, reports Bloomberg.
Alex Epstein, senior director of digital strategy at the National Safety Council of America thinks autonomous technologies have a long distance to cover before steering wheel, brakes and the driver can be removed from the equation. He said “In theory, the concept is a wonderful idea,” Epstein said. “The question is how does the auto industry and the tech industry get to that place.” ALSO READ: NATMO to develop Braille-enabled smartphone app for the visually challenged
On the other hand, National Federation of the Blind has started taking up the cause of not only the blind but hearing impaired people, seniors and carmakers. The self driving coalition for safer streets which advocates for Ford Motor, Volvo cars, Waymo, Uber and Lyft has also joined their cause. Thus the fight for the mobility of specially challenged sections is just going to be much stronger in the coming days.
Another advocacy group called SAFE (Securing America’s Future Energy) has argued that improved access to transportation from fully autonomous vehicles would save $ 19 billion in health bills while improving job prospects of 2 million disabled.
Currently, there are total 5 levels of autonomy and only the second level of autonomy has been explored for mass production which is available in Tesla Model S. Thus it is going to be at least 10 years before a mass produced vehicle fully autonomous (Level 5) vehicle makes it to the roads and in turn a long wait for the blind people to drive up to their destination.