Google's Self-Driving Car Could Become Seniors' Chauffeur

It's a wonderful thing to see our beloved elders embrace technology. I've gifted my in-laws with a digital photo frame so they can always see their favorite family pictures. My mother Skypes with her family half a world away. And as our society ages, the gap between the population and the ease and familiarity of use with technology will narrow. Google, popular leader of all things digital, recently posted a YouTube video depicting its experimental self-driving car on the road in California.



What makes this test drive even more remarkable is the driver, Steve Mahan, who said that "95 percent of my vision is gone. I'm well past legally blind."

Google introduced the technology in 2010, hopes is now in talks with Detroit car manufacturers and car insurers in order to gauge the excitement and viability of their self-driving car project. They are looking to get the technology could be ready within the next decade. The car uses laser scanners, heat sensors and satellite navigation to "see" other vehicles. According to Auto World News, at a recent Society of Automotive Engineers conference, Google “sent out a message that an experimental project of self-driving cars for senior citizens and physically challenged can be made possible given a support from global car makers.”

Of course the implications for elderly drivers are far-reaching. This breakthrough would give untold independence to those who can no longer drive due to age or age-related diseases, such as Macular Degeneration or Parkinson’s Disease. Many more hours of development and testing are ahead, but according to Anthony Levandowski, product manager for Google's self-driving car project, the development of the self-driven car is more than cool and convenient, it has a moral imperative. He said it could eliminate a "huge chunk" of the more than 30,000 fatalities that occur in vehicle accidents every year in the U.S. "Every year we don't have this technology built, more people die."

We’ve discussed senior driving safety in previous posts and we always advocate hiring a qualified caregiver to chauffeur and run errands if mom or dad can no longer drive. And until Google’s self-driving technology is commonplace, Caregiverlist provides you with the driving laws by state many states require vision tests more frequently after a certain age and some states do require an in-person driving test.

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