Self-driving taxi developer Voyage, which last year deployed its first driverless taxi service in a retirement community in California, has announced that it is to launch self-driving cars in a retirement community and city in Florida that boasts 125,000 residents.
The company has begun testing its self-driving fleet within The Villages, Florida and plans to start rolling out a door-to-door self-driving taxi service for residents early this year.
When the service is fully operational, all 125,000 residents will be able to summon a self-driving car and travel anywhere within the community fully autonomously.
The self-driving vehicles promise to give residents access to more than 100 dining options, eight grocery stores, assorted sports facilities and nearly eight million square feet of commercial and retail buildings. The Villages is spread over 40 square miles and, in 2014, ranked as the fastest-growing US city for the second consecutive year.
“Villagers love their lifestyle and driverless technology offers a promising new option for staying mobile and active in a safe, affordable way,” said Kelsea Morse Manly, Director of Operations at The Villages.
“Whether it’s helping those with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, vision impairment, or just those who want to get around with less friction, we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact autonomous transportation can have for seniors,” said Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron in a blog post announcing the programme.
“With Voyage’s successful deployment at the 4,000-resident Villages in San Jose, we are now energized to tackle the challenges of a city-scale community and beyond.”
High-resolution mapping of the 750 miles of road within the community is being provided through a partnership with autonomous vehicle intelligence firm CARMERA. The company will provide Voyage’s self-driving cars with continuously updated localisation and navigation-critical data.
Voyage is not the only company looking at how autonomous vehicles might benefit elderly people and those with limited mobility. In Australia, care homes provider IRT Group is piloting driverless cars with residents of one of its aged care communities, allowing them to travel independently to appointments or to meet up with friends and family.