Epilepsy Talk

Self-Driving Cars — The License to Drive? | July 8, 2021

It’s not a dream. It’s a reality that’s happening NOW.

After losing his best friend to a car accident at age 18, Sebastian Thrun vowed that he would find a way to prevent fatal crashes caused by human error.

Now a professor of computer science at Stanford University, Thrun joined forces with Google in 2007 to develop cars that drive on autopilot.

The state of Nevada has granted Google a license for trial on public roads – bringing self-driving vehicles one step closer to production. And the California State Senate has recently approved a bill that would legalize self-driving cars in the state.

Self-driving cars basically work by computer and memory.

(The onboard computer system has a 360 degree spatial awareness.) Equipped with video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder, the test cars have driven 180,000 miles in California all by themselves.

“Before any route is driven using the automated technology, first the routes are driven to capture a detailed digital map of all of the features on the way. By mapping things like lane markers and traffic signs, the software in the car becomes familiar with the environment and its characteristics in advance.”

When the car later tackles the route without driver assistance, the same cameras, laser sensors and radar help determine where other cars are and how fast they’re moving.

Meanwhile the computer software controls acceleration and deceleration and mounted cameras read and interpret traffic lights, signals and road signs.

“The problems are all about computers and information.

How to get the right info to the cars at the right time,” a Google spokesman continued. “And it’s all made possible by our data centers, which are able to process the enormous amounts of info gathered by these vehicles.”

And in the future, autonomous cars will be able to communicate with one another, allowing them to negotiate lane changes and passing, analysts predict.

Right now, the Tesla and Toyota Prius seem to be in the lead of those developing self-driving cars.

And most major car companies have advanced self-driving car projects in the works.

From Audi to BMW, Cadillac, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Lexus, Nissan, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Volvo.

The obvious advantage would be for people unable to drive, like those with epilepsy, because the car would be independently mobile.

It would mean that no sort of supervision is required to keep the journey safe and user-friendly.

But also consider:

Safer roads — Human error is the cause of 60 per cent of the 1.2 million fatal road traffic accidents globally each year.

Less pollution — Fuel economy would have a positive impact on the environment.

Cheaper insurance — Greatly reduced chances of having an accident will mean lower premiums.

Improved economy — The car calculates how to drive in the most efficient manner.

New designs — Visibility would be less important, so the whole shape and look of cars could be radically different.

Definitely, for those of us who can’t drive, this technology could be the start of so many options, so much more freedom.

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  1. Phylis Feiner Johnson, this sounds like an interesting idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by ragnarsbhut — July 8, 2021 @ 9:40 AM

  2. Self-driving cars could really help people with epilepsy and others that are unable to drive. Unfortunately, Google (Waymo), Tesla, and other’s now realize that the development of self-driving cars will take a lot longer than originally predicted. Here’s a good article from The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/24/technology/self-driving-cars-wait.html?smid=url-share
    I’m sticking with public transit, Uber, and Lyft

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Rosebud Coffey — July 8, 2021 @ 10:06 AM

  3. GREAT article Rosebud! Thanks for the dose of reality.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 8, 2021 @ 10:48 AM

  4. And What if you’re needing to get several items besides groceries, & non-grocery items, and a car wont bring it all home ? Will that car then expand to a truck or SUV ? Some things can’t be hauled in an average car. Remember KISS Keep It Simple Stupid. Life is complicated enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — July 8, 2021 @ 11:04 AM

  5. Reblogged this on Disablities & Mental Health Issues.


    Comment by Kenneth — July 8, 2021 @ 11:17 AM

  6. Interesting idea. Not clear what would happen if person in car had a seizure, though! Self drive you to hospital?
    Rosebud and others, have any of you ever had seizures while using Uber, Lyft, etc? I’d like to use them but am uncertain.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by skolly9 — July 8, 2021 @ 1:32 PM

    • No, thankfully, I haven’t had a seizure while using an Uber or Lyft. And I’ve been using them regularly for over 3 years. I do wear a medical alert bracelet that has my name, date of birth, emergency contact person and my epilepsy medications listed. I can’t tell you how many times that bracelet it has helped people when I’ve had a seizure and if I’m in public–gasp.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Rosebud Coffey — July 8, 2021 @ 1:50 PM

      • Congratulations to you with the med-bracelet. I have the same. It is 1/2″ in width with a red cross and states my medical condition and reads…”see info on dog tags around neck”. These are military style. Plenty of room to add a lot of info, so the info is easy to read by others. These are custom-made by a group of military veterans who started a company, Hand Made By Heroes. They are extremely inexpensive. Search…handmadebyheroes.com You may want to check it out. They have all sorts of medical bracelets.

        Like you this has helped me on 4 occasions while out jogging, as my tags contain all medications, name, contact info for my wife and daughter. I also still have my old flip-top phone in one hand, in case the person who wishes to help does not have a phone. Stay safe

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Roy Anthony — July 11, 2021 @ 2:50 PM

  7. Current self driving cars still require a licensed driver in case of accidents, computer problems, hacking or cyber interference etc. So “back seat drivers” like me will not become redundant. (My wife was disappointed to hear this!)

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Michael H — July 8, 2021 @ 2:12 PM

    • My daughter-in-law just hit a deer but was able to turn so it only ‘nicked’ her. But could a self driving car swerve away?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Lorraine — July 8, 2021 @ 3:44 PM

  8. Can’t say I like the idea of having a seizure alone in a driverless car in heavy traffic. Not sure they’re “safer.” Or maybe I’m having a bad hair day.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — July 8, 2021 @ 2:56 PM

    • I know it’s a little off topic, but speaking of Seizure Alert Jewelry (Rosebud, provider of all things practical) here’s some important information about the Medical Alert Foundation. http://www.medicalert.org/

      Medics recognize it and you can change your information, when needed. (Like if your meds change.) They also know whom to contact, especially if you end up in the hospital. The price for membership is just $30 a year. And if you have an “Advance Directive, they will include it with your information — Free.

      Another life-saving option is the Medical Text ID https://www.hopepaige.com/category/all a powerful Medical ID in case of emergency. It assigns a unique personal identification number (PIN) that is displayed on a wallet card, key chain, sticker or snap-on device that can be worn on clothing. The PIN is linked to an online account that you can set up on your secure iB Web site. Your online account has information about who you are, what medications and allergies you have and up to ten emergency contacts.

      End of commercial.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 8, 2021 @ 3:46 PM

      • Phylis, thank you for sharing the great information about the Medic Alert. I’m going to look into it.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by franceskcoffey@gmail.com — July 8, 2021 @ 4:53 PM

      • Glad if I can be of help Frances. (It was actually Rosebud who brought up the topic. But, I’ll take credit if you want!)


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 8, 2021 @ 4:56 PM

  9. Phyllis-

    Not relating to the car- but have you ever given thought about putting together a book with all of your information, suggestions, and explanations about Epilepsy & all it includes?

    A strong suggestion! I’ve been trying to condense matter from Internet to make more disc space.


    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Karen — July 8, 2021 @ 4:46 PM

  10. Karen, careful, your compliments may go to my head.

    I just don’t have a book in me…

    Years ago (some of you may remember) I wanted to put together a book of different peoples’ experiences with epilepsy. It was to be called “Other voices, other lives.”

    But once I got involved participating in someone else’s book, I saw all the legalese, releases and garbage, it just turned me off.

    Yes, I was sad. But honestly, if you saw what I had to go through just to write four pages in his book…

    It’s outrageous.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 8, 2021 @ 4:55 PM

  11. I can’t wait for this. I miss driving so much. Being dependent on other people for everything is a pain in the butt. Does anyone have an idea what they will cost? Will anyone help us with the cost if the price is excessive?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ernie Polak — July 9, 2021 @ 12:55 PM

    • I’m sure they’ll be pricey. And I’m afraid they will start out as a luxury that few individuals can afford.

      At lunch, I said that I see them more likely to be embraced by the trucking, transportation and delivery industries.

      They can afford them. And it can save them considerable money.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 9, 2021 @ 3:35 PM

  12. Self-driving cars seem like a good idea. The only risk is potential sabotage.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by ragnarsbhut — July 13, 2021 @ 9:04 PM

  13. I wish that there was a vehicle like the Delorean of the Back to the Future series. The vehicle could be on the road or could fly in the air. Another benefit would be time travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by ragnarsbhut — August 17, 2021 @ 4:23 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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