Coronavirus Update: Our response to COVID 19

Driverless cars change the face of accessibility

Driverless cars change the face of accessibility

In previous years, those with mobility issues have been reliant on public transport or friends and family to help them with regular trips to shops or to socialise. This is already shifting with the aids of certain apps, such as Uber. This offers an affordable independence for those no longer able to drive or for people who live in rural or isolated areas far from links to public transport.

This is expected to evolve further with the introduction of driverless cars. Eight years ago in San Francisco, Google began testing its driverless cars, however it is only recently, after thorough testing, that they are ready to start taking passengers. Depending on the success of Google’s renamed autonomous car development company, Waymo (standing for ‘A new way forward in mobility’) we could be seeing driverless cars becoming the norm as early as 2020.

Though this all seems very exciting, it may appear to have little relevance to the community that relies on mobility equipment. Often those who use home mobility equipment such as stairlifts, are unable to drive due to slower reactions or medical conditions. To have a vehicle for a household with limited mobility allows them to be more independent.

There are also fears for isolation and depression in the older community, especially those who feel housebound. Though there are many advantages to technology such as social media or home delivery services for groceries, it removes the human interaction from the process that can often deepen feelings of loneliness. By regaining independence in the form of a vehicle, those who would often message or call friends can visit them more easily, or better enjoy the many accessible attractions and days out available in the UK.

Though this could be a few years off yet, it will also change the attitudes and approach to becoming older. As the UK as well as many other countries have an older average age, a shift in perception is necessary and technology such as driverless cars will help to achieve an increasingly well-adjusted attitude.

Image credit: Grendelkhan