Think about the ideal test lab for Silicon Valley’s most innovative technology, and Florida retirement communities may not immediately come to mind. However, active adults are on the cutting edge of autonomous vehicle technology in The Villages, the country’s largest 55+ community.
It’s also where Voyage, a venture-backed technology start-up, is unleashing a fleet of self-driving cars to provide residents a new option for getting around town.
Why Autonomous Vehicles Work in The Villages
Autonomous vehicle services (AVS) work best in communities like The Villages for a number of reasons, which Voyager CEO Olver Cameron recently laid out in an interview with The Economist.
First, the roads and the environment are easier to navigate. The speed limit in The Villages generally goes no higher than 20 mph, mostly thanks to golf carts sharing the road with automobiles. The layout of the streets is also easy to navigate; there aren’t any dramatic hills in Florida or complicated turns and curves. There also isn’t any snow, which is something that may confuse AVS sensors. Roads in 55+ communities are often well-maintained as well, ensuring safety and ease of transport.
The Villages is also ideal because mobility can be an issue for people in the community. They might not want to own or drive a car, but they still need to get to the grocery store, the bank, and the post office.
Abandoning the will to drive one’s own car is not unique to retirees; people of all ages are summoning Uber and Lyft drivers in cities and towns all over the world. In The Villages, leaving behind the expense and stress of car ownership is especially appealing. By utilizing this type of service, there’s no need for insurance, annual registration updates at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or recurring maintenance.
There’s also a large market in The Villages. With over 125,000 residents and plenty of private roads, it’s a great spot to evaluate the sustainability of self-driving cars. This is one of the fastest-growing residential communities in the country.