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Google’s Self-Driving Cars will Help Elders go Wherever they Want

Self driving cars provide excitement for the masses: technology lovers, car enthusiasts and, surprisingly, the elderly. For those who feel it’s time to hand in their license due to age restrictions, it’s not, self driving cars can ensure that mobility needs are met for all ages.

As Bloomberg informs, Florence Swanson, 94, recently won a Google contest after she entered her painting of a guitar player. Swanson’s prize was a trip in one of Google’s self driving vehicles, now making her the oldest person to ride in a vehicle with Google’s autonomous technology.

The Austin, Texas, resident said “You haven’t lived until you get in one of those cars,”. After Swanson’s half-hour excursion she said “I couldn’t believe that the car could talk. I felt completely safe.”

This will be exactly what Google want to hear, especially after one of its self driving cars was involved in an accident earlier this month. Could seeing the elderly embrace self driving cars inspire other road users to switch to autonomous vehicles?

John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, featured Swanson at a presentation in Detroit this January. Just like Swanson, Krafcik’s own mother, who’s 96, gave up her drivers license and all the freedom that comes with it, about a decade ago.

“A fully self-driving car has the potential to have a huge impact on people like Florence and my mom,” Krafcik said. “Mobility should be open to the millions around the world who don’t have the privilege of holding a driver’s license.”

Over 43 million people in the U.S are currently 65 years old or older. Since 79% of seniors live in the suburbs and rural areas, a great stress is placed on mobility. In these areas, things like going to the doctor or visiting family are much more difficult to do without your own personal form of transport.

Considering the benefits self driving cars offer the elderly, could we see OAPs take to self driving cars the same way the most recent generation has taken to smartphones?

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