The best place to test autonomous cars? Retirement communities
A tech start-up has discovered the perfect location for the real-world proving of driverless tech: retirement communities.
Voyage Auto has secured an exclusive, multi-year license to deploy an autonomous ride-sharing service at The Villages in Florida, the largest retirement community in the world.
The company says the slower speeds and simple road layout make it the perfect test bed for an autonomous future.
‘When you visit a retirement community, you step into a different world,’ says Voyage Auto CEO Oliver Cameron, ‘a simpler, slower, and calmer world.
‘It’s a surreal feeling that you have to experience for yourself, but I bet you’d leave thinking they’re perfect for self-driving cars.
‘Within a typical retirement community, you’re often speed-limited to 20 mph, and although you will definitely encounter a variety of cars and pedestrians, it’s infinitely less chaotic than your typical city or suburb.
‘The roadway itself is easier to navigate, thanks to simpler traffic patterns and incredible maintenance. You can drive for miles and avoid complex lane merges-or even traffic lights. In other words, a self-driving car’s dream’.
Voyage Auto converts standard models to autonomous using a combination of eight cameras and five Lidarsscanning the world ten times a second. The Lidars boast 128 beams and enabling the vehicles to perceive objects at a distance of 250 metres.
‘When you’re driving at 20 mph in a retirement community, these specifications equate to more than ample time to react and predict the correct action your self-driving car should take,’ says Cameron.
Additionally, Venture technology features hardware- rather than software-enforced limitations on speed and steering and redundancy in the system’s key hardware, software and algorithms.
He believes that retirement communities such as The Villages – which has 125,000 residents – will see autonomous vehicles deployed before driverless cars are widely adopted in cities.
‘Everyone at Voyage believes that limiting speed and chaos, solving meaningful transportation problems for real people, and ensuring that we optimise for autonomous safety and performance will yield a truly driverless car sooner than many think’.