Self-driving cars: the potential to help people who can no longer drive
Tom says there are promising, innovative solutions. He believes FSL – and the entire population the organization serves – can benefit from fully self-driving technology and be on the leading edge of adopting it.
“I think self-driving has a tremendous impact, not just for the senior, but also the person who’s taking care of them,” Tom says. Fully self-driving cars have the potential to take people safely from place to place without anyone needing to drive.
Waymo's fully self-driving technology is constantly vigilant and can see up to three football fields away, 360 degrees day or night, and is designed to be a cautious, defensive driver. Self-driving cars can’t get distracted, drunk, or text while driving.
Seniors can be leaders in adopting new technology
Tom emphasizes that the senior population can be leaders in the adoption of new technologies, adding that many seniors are much more open to innovation than they sometimes receive credit for.
“I think it’s a little bit of a misnomer with an aging population that they’re not going to adopt the technology,” Tom says. “Yes, there will be some, but there’s a whole group of young boomers who are online, they’re tech savvy, and they’re more open to this.”
When Waymo and Tom invited Santos to take a ride in a Waymo self-driving vehicle in March 2019, he quickly agreed.
The night before the ride, Santos talked about self-driving technology with his wife, who is also in her mid-eighties and serves as his sometimes-driver (although she no longer drives at night, in the winter, or on the freeway).
“I discussed that with my wife about the self-driving cars,” Santos recalls. “I said ‘I imagine you will just punch in the address where you want to go, and then you punch the main button, and the car takes off and goes there’.”
Santos notes that self-driving cars are a continuation of technological innovations throughout history.
“Technology is actually with us in health, in hospitals, and doctors and teachers use it,” Santos emphasizes. “We have to convince people in their hearts and minds that technology can be safe and they can trust it.”
On their trip, Tom and Santos point out features of the technology and watch the screen that lets them follow their trip and see what the car is seeing through its system of radars and sensors.
“Once Waymo has this technology more integrated into our community... it could be transformational for our world,” Tom says.
Tom explains that it’s more than just driving people around: it’s about helping people live life to the fullest. “Being able to have access to reliable, safe, dignified transportation is an absolute game-changer for our senior population.”