There is a stereotype that older adults are unwilling to try new technologies or, worse, that we fear technical innovation. While this is clearly ridiculous, in my experience, it is true that we tend to wait for a technology to become useful before we jump on board.
I mean, call me old fashioned, but, I don’t see the point of using an app that lets me send a single word, “Yo!” to my friends. Yes, that’s an actual thing. Unsurprisingly, it’s called Yo, and the company behind it received more than $11.5-million in funding! Maybe I’m in the wrong business!
The point that I am trying to make here is that, as older adults, we are perfectly happy to embrace new technologies when they actually make our lives better.
So, today, I want to talk about a technology that has the potential to change the lives of millions of seniors – especially those of us who are lucky enough to have reached our 70s and 80s.
Let’s talk about driverless cars.
Few companies represent the Millennial generation better than Uber. The next-generation taxi company is a symbol of the “gig economy” (working independently, but, for a big company) and the “share economy” (sharing rather than buying).
So, it would be natural to think that driverless cars would be adopted by millennials before older adults.
Not so fast!
In reality, there are several reasons to believe that driverless cars will be a hit with Boomers at least as much as they will be with Millennials.
For starters, every year, millions of older adults hang up their car keys in favor of public transportation and shuttle services. Some of us just don’t want to deal with the stress of driving. Others are dealing with a loss or vision or other medical condition that makes driving difficult.
Simply put, we need reliable, cost-effective transportation.
Second, many of us live in areas that are not reliably served by traditional taxi companies. If you live in the city, getting a taxi (or Uber) is simple. Just press a button and “voila!” one arrives in minutes. But, if you live in a retirement community or small village, you may be waiting a while.
Part of the reason for the lack of reliable transportation outside of the cities is that drivers just don’t find it economical to spend time in our neck of the woods. Or, they don’t like taking short rides.
Driverless cars, by definition, don’t care how far away you live or how far you want to go. They will pick you up, day or night and take you to your destination.
Finally… and somewhat ironically, retirement communities are excellent testing grounds for driverless cars. They have less traffic than city streets. Our roads are well maintained and predictable. And, there aren’t any small kids to avoid!
Perhaps this is the reason that the Voyage taxi company recently announced that they are going to start testing their fleet in The Villages retirement community, in Florida.
According to AARP, Fred Briggs, who is president of a 16,000-member homeowners group in The Villages, said, “I’m 76, and there will be a time when my wife and I will not feel comfortable driving out to a restaurant in our golf cart at night… this will be perfect for people like us.”
Residents of The Village can apply to join the Voyage taxi service pilot here. The rest of us may need to wait a little longer. But, trust me, we won’t have to wait too much longer!
Would you ride in a driverless car? Why or why not? Do you think that driverless cars will be useful for older adults who can no longer drive? Let’s have a chat!