Over the past year or so, we’ve heard a lot about self-driving cars, as various companies roll them out for testing in several major cities. It appears Florida is also joining the ranks of driverless vehicles, as a company called Voyage has announced it will be testing a fleet of autos in The Villages in 2018.
Voyage is an autonomous vehicle (AV) company that specializes in a “self-driving taxi service.” The service plans to operate, for now, solely in The Villages, a controlled environment. With 125,000 people in its retirement community, it has over 750 miles of road and three distinct downtowns—a prime environment for this sort of service. The Villages is a self-contained, planned community where the roads and districts are neatly laid out, making it easy for the technology to map and outline.
Using a Ford Fusion with rooftop Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), the vehicle will be able to take seniors where they need to go by visualizing the road almost like an actual driver would. Each car will have a human technician aboard to monitor controls and take over in the event of an emergency.
If successful, this trial could pave the way for autonomous vehicles to help other senior citizens across the nation access services they couldn’t in the past. It could also help the reputation of the AV industry that’s lately under fire for moving too quickly and being involved in several vehicle accidents.
Voyage’s CEO Oliver Cameron said that the majority of The Villages’ residents—average age 72—have smartphones, and will be able to “hail” a taxi through an app. The service will be free of charge. He believes autonomous vehicles will be a boon to the senior community, many of whom can no longer drive, or tend to only drive during the day.
Retirement communities in Florida make good choices for AV testing because of their many advantages:
- Affluent residents
- Well planned-out roads
- Temperate weather (no snow to interfere with car sensors)
- Low speed limits
- Few pedestrians
Florida is one of more than 20 states that’s approved the use of autonomous vehicles on its roads. One of those states is California, where, coincidentally, Voyage has had a successful rollout in another retirement community called The Villages.
If you have questions about accidents or insurance laws regarding autonomous vehicles, contact the Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys at Yeboah Law Group. We are here to help if you’re involved in a car crash through no fault of your own. Call 1-800-TELL-SAM or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our team members.