A new way to navigate the world

3:06 PM, Nov 21, 2019
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Max was only three months old when his parents got the diagnosis: he was blind. Max’s parents turned to the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix, which began helping his family immediately.

People from the Foundation taught Max’s parents how to help him navigate the world using sounds and touch. Max soon learned about technology that can assist people who are blind in incredible ways.

It eventually became clear that Max - who is ambitious and driven – would grow up to accomplish things most people only dream of doing, like hiking the Grand Canyon and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Yet there are still some challenges he faces that most people don’t have to contend with. One of them is related to traveling around independently, especially in a city with wide streets where almost everyone drives.

“A significant challenge of being blind is the issue of transportation, because I can’t drive.”

Max uses public transportation and other services to get around, but sometimes he would like to just spontaneously hop into his own car and go to the grocery store on his own terms.

And he loves hanging out with his girlfriend, Lilian, however he doesn’t love that he always has to ask her to drive.

“She says that the worst thing about dating me is that she has to do all the driving,” Max says with a smile, adding, “which I think is a good thing, that that’s the worst thing.”

Lilian agrees. “I actually don’t like driving at all.” She says self-driving cars could change all that.

“If Max had the option of self-driving cars, he wouldn't have to rely on anybody for a ride,” Lilian says. “He would have his independence back, which, as an adult, we all want.”

Max agrees. “I need to rely on others for that basic requirement of life,” Max concedes. “It’s limiting. I am even more reliant than the average person is, in this day and age, on technology.”

Max believes today’s emerging technologies are changing the world in drastic ways. “The potential of self-driving cars is just limitless,” Max tells us, noting they would give him freedom he doesn’t have now. “I could completely take control of every aspect of my life.”

With self-driving cars, Max could enjoy mobility independence, either by himself or with other people, and no one would be obliged to drive or to ask for a ride.

“From a self-esteem point of view, it would be great,” Max says. “From a practical point of view, it would be life-changing.”

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