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Google’s self-driving car takes blind man on errands

By Salvador Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — A self-driving car being developed by Google Inc. took a blind man for a ride this week, driving him to a Taco Bell and then to a dry cleaner in San Jose, Calif.

On Thursday, Google posted a video of a modified Toyota Prius driving Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, saying it shows one of the possibilities and benefits that could come from the technology.

“Where this would change my life is to give me the independence and the flexibility to go to the places I both want to go and need to go when I need to do those things,” Mahan says in the video.

The self-driving car took Mahan to Taco Bell for a quick meal and a dry cleaner to pick up his clothes.

“Look, Ma, no hands,” Mahan says. “No hands, no feet.”

Google, which posted the video on its Google+ account, said the drive took place on a carefully programmed route in San Jose and showed one of the possibilities that self-driving cars could offer.

“There’s much left to design and test, but we’ve now safely completed more than 200,000 miles of computer-led driving, gathering great experiences and an overwhelming number of enthusiastic supporters,” the Mountain View, Calif., company said in the post.

Though it’s uncertain just how far off self-driving cars may be from becoming a reality, the process to getting there is certainly in motion. Just last month, Nevada became the first state to legalize self-driving cars.

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