Self-Driving Car Fleet Planned for Florida Retirement Community

Older adults aging in place are often faced with transportation challenges when they can no longer safely continue driving.  When to stop driving is one of the most difficult discussions to have with an aging parent and is a major concern for seniors, especially in areas where public transportation may not be available and other alternatives are expensive or unreliable. 

Being able to participate in social, cultural or religious activities is not only an important part of aging well, isolation and loneliness can lead to a decline in overall health and is growing problem in a rapidly aging population.  When asked, nearly 90 per cent of seniors over the age of 65 say they want to age where they are but those who live in suburbs or rural areas without access to public transportation are at a distinct disadvantage; autonomous cars could provide an answer. 

One of Florida’s largest retirement communities is addressing this growing transportation problem by introducing a fleet of self-driving taxis to it’s 125,000 senior residents.  According to BBC News, the plan will be introduced next year by the transportation specialists, Voyage, at The Villages where residents can call for rides using a mobile app.

The plan is to span 750 miles of road, the largest such project to date. But the automated cars could be a tough sell for older adults who may not feel comfortable with the self-driving vehicles.  To start, each car will have a safety driver who can take the wheel in the event of an emergency.   Recent tests of self-driving cars including the one operated by Argo Al, a Ford-backed startup, have been involved in accidents.  It’s unclear if human or computer error is to blame for the accidents.

To learn more about other programs in the works planning to launch self driving cars in the near future, follow this link to The Verge, an American technology news and media network.