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5 ways self-driving cars can help people

A recent breakthrough by Google proves that self-driving cars are becoming a reality

As reported by the LA Times, the technology now allows for a blind man to be taken from his home, to a fast food restaurant. The car can even navigate the drive-through. If you have ever looked closely at the curbing and wall of any drive through you will see the scuff marks and dents that prove many actual drivers cannot do this successfully! Clearly, the driving community as well as others who share the roads will need to adapt and learn some new rules, but as a society we can benefit from self-driving cars. Here are five situations where self-driving cars might help us.

Assisting the handicapped
The case of the sight-impaired man proves without any debate that there are those among us that do have trouble driving and would benefit from a self-driving car. A car than can do the job of the driver would enable this community to enjoy much of the freedom and independence that most drivers take for granted.

Helping the temporarily handicapped
Any one of us could find ourselves injured in a way that would prevent us from commuting to work, even though the injury doesn’t prevent us from doing the job once there. Think of a right leg injury. A self-driving car could step in during the recovery period and keep a person in the workforce who might otherwise have to drop out and use short-term disability insurance.

Help for the elderly
The debate around restricting the driving privileges of our elderly citizens has raged on and off for decades. There is no right or wrong viewpoint. However, we can all agree that there is a point at which a person would like to take the car out, but may not have the ability to do it safely. Self-driving cars could be an excellent gate-way for those not yet ready to give up the keys, but not able to operate the vehicle themselves in a completely safe manner.

The emergency vehicle
Nobody would ever propose that an empty self-driven emergency vehicle would be the right type of aid. However, an ambulance could arrive and all the EMTs or paramedics could help tend to the injured person on the way back to the hospital as the ambulance drove itself. This might be the easiest adaptation for us to make as a society because we already give way to emergency vehicles and expect them to break all the rules of the road to get past us fast in traffic.

Local cab service
Have you ever had a cabbie tell you they didn’t want to take you to a certain location because it was too nearby, thus the fare isn’t worth their giving up their spot in the taxi queue? How about the opposite? A cabbie who tells you they only serve “the city” and don’t want to take you all the way out to the ‘burbs. Perhaps there is a solution here. As self-driving cars become more mainstream they might begin to fill the niche for rides cabbies prefer not to take. Rather than be a negative for the taxi industry, maybe a way will be found to reserve the most lucrative fares for those with human drivers and let the self-driving cabs do the less-profitable work.

Many people react negatively to the idea of self-driven vehicles, but when the situations for their use become clear we will all adapt and benefit.

Image by Barry Schwartz from the Search Engine Roundtable. Used with permission.