MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX) — Waymo, a self-driving car company based in Silicon Valley, showed off its technology in Mountain View Thursday during its last public meeting of the year.
But those who attended weren’t just residents who were curious; there were also those who said self-driving cars would change their lives.
“I can see lights, colors, shadows,” said Kevin Andrews, who was born with congenital cataracts and is blind. “Being able to get in a car and drive on the road with other crazy drivers would be a lot of fun, I’m not going to lie,” he added.
Andrews was among dozens who attended the meeting held by Waymo. The company obtained the first ever driverless testing permits in mid-October. The permits allow Waymo to test its fleet of 39 self-driving cars without a human behind the wheel on public roads, including in Mountain View, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale.
“I think we all still have lots of questions about it,” said Mountain View resident Marilyn Benefiel.
Waymo workers answered questions from the public, including Benefiel, about its testing phases, technology and where it sees itself in the future.
Right now, the company has broadened its testing in Arizona to self-driving taxis.
Waymo representatives would not do any on-camera interviews and did not allow cameras in the meeting but they told the crowd it would be a while before their cars would be on the roads without a human behind the wheel.
Andrews, who is the president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, said he attended the meeting not only because he’s interested in the technology but also because he wants to be part of the race to get the self-driving cars on our roads.
“It would be awesome to just be able to jump in a car and be able to go wherever I want, whenever,” he said. “So if it’s going to work for everybody, it needs to work for blind people as well.
“We’re a huge number of people who can’t drive and there’s a lot of us here, so we want our voices heard.”