It is coming as no surprise that there is much debate over the functionality and effectiveness of self-driving cars. Already, there have been numerous accidents involving these types of vehicles, but nonetheless, their use is still being promoted by many companies. In Florida, 125,000 seniors living in a retirement community are becoming some of the first people with free access to self-driving cars. These cars are providing transportation on approximately 750 miles of roads in The Villages — a Florida retirement community. If seniors want to take advantage of lower insurance rates, they should check into a mature driver discount. Also, to help lower insurance rates, seniors can take advantage of online traffic school Florida to help them with ticket dismissal.
You’re probably wondering what company is behind this robo-taxi service. It’s a company called Voyage, a startup that specializes in autonomous vehicles. As part of the project, seniors will have access to free transportation to and from a variety of activities, including the local theater, grocery stores, and more. During the first part of the project, a technician will be on board as a form of caution and to carry out system monitoring tasks. These vehicles will have steering wheels, and if needed, the technician can take the wheel and take control of the car. During later phases of the project, though, there will be no technician on board and a transportation fee will be added.
If the project goes well, it could revolutionize the way seniors are able to get back and forth to some of their more pertinent activities and appointments. It could also help propel the auto industry to speed up their progress on self-driving vehicles. According to the CEO of Voyage, Oliver Cameron, “There’s been tons of interest by seniors, and no complaints… They feel like pioneers.”
When in a controlled environment, seniors are especially ideal for taking advantage of driver-less cars. A controlled environment means that the “homes, roads and commercial districts are neatly laid out.” The average age of residents living in The Village is 72, with many of them owning smartphones, which gives them simple and convenient access to Voyage’s free app that allows them to book transportation. Cameron goes on to say “they certainly have a need for this as their biggest problem is visual impairment … Many can no longer drive, or drive only during the daytime.”
There have been many cautionary signals given to self-driving vehicles from consumer groups across America. Jack Gillis, a spokesperson with the Consumer Federation of America, state “that Congress was asleep at the wheel, and had basically given car companies a blank check to create their own driver-less cars without any real oversight or regulation from the U.S. Department of Transportation.”
Are there hurdles to be jumped in regards to driverless vehicles? Absolutely, but the project taking place in The Village is an excellent way to carry out experiments in a controlled environment that can help boost the efficiency and effectiveness of self-driving cars. Before these vehicles can actually drive on the highway outside of a controlled environment, there needs to be much research and this project is providing valuable research data.
There are other projects taking place across the country, such as in Michigan at Mcity’s Test Facility located in Ann Arbor; this is where there is a mile long track that simulates real driving conditions, including everything from pedestrians to bicyclists. Huei Peng, the Director of Mcity, says that, “Driver-less technology has made a lot of progress.” He even went on to point out the many advantages to be gained by carrying out a self-driving project in a senior community, which included, “A supportive, affluent community with few pedestrians, low-speed limits and good weather.”
Peng goes on to add that the Voyage is a trailblazing company, “They are trailblazers… best wishes to them.” And since we’re talking about trailblazing, let’s not forget to mention that there will be a lot of trailblazing going on at the Detroit Auto Show this year. From self-driving cars to various devices using AV technology, the show is a big draw for automakers.
The Voyage project taking place in Florida will likely help improve consumers’ views toward driverless cars, which at the time is not very positive. Cameron says, “We have a long way to go before this is viable for everyone in the country, but if we succeed here, it will be much easier to win universal acceptance.”