Can Self-Driving Cars Redefine Old Age?

Approximately 35,000 seniors in England have difficulty walking a short distance, but they're restricted to using public transportation making any journey difficult.

Photo Caption: The Lutz Pathfinder is being used in Britain's first official self-driving car tests. The Lutz Pathfinder can carry two passengers and maxes out at 15 MPH with enough juice to drive for eight straight hours.

A new study by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) found that self-driving cars could liberate nearly 1.5 million seniors who are stuck in their homes due to poor or inaccessible public transportation.

The researchers found that about one in six seniors over 65 in the UK have a hard time even getting to doctors appointments. So not only could self-driving cars get them out of the house and improve their mental well-being, the robot cars will help keep people physically healthy as well.

And these numbers reflect the aging population just in the UK, imagine the number of seniors worldwide who could be positively impacted by driverless cars.

SEE ALSO: UK Re-writing Traffic Laws as Self-driving Car Tests Begin

“It is crucial that older people are able to get out and about, especially as the evidence shows this helps them retain their health and independence for longer,” said Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK. “Against this context it is worrying that so many older people are struggling to reach hospital, or sometimes even their local GP.

“Better transport planning and more imaginative use of volunteers could make a big difference today - and in the medium term ‘driverless cars’ and other technological innovations could be real game changers.”

Helen Creighton, head of ILC-UK and co-author of the study, said “there is evidence that maintaining older people’s mobility has substantial economic benefits, with analysis by ILC-UK estimating that concessionary fares will provide a net benefit to the wider community of £19.4 billion in the years up to 2037.

SEE ALSO: Why Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Will be Here Sooner Than you Think

“This report, which highlights the travel difficulties facing older people, emphasizes the need to adapt our transport system to meet the demands of our aging society.”

The study also found that insurance premiums could be reduced for these seniors, if self-driving cars do prove to reduce the risk of accidents, saving UK seniors hundreds of pounds each year.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Google’s Self-Driving Cars

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe:  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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