Future Mobility

Robot Cars to Improve Mobility for Elderly and Disabled People

One of the Japanese auto manufacturers unveiled a tiny single passenger self-driving car to aid older people or in general, for those who have difficulties to walk. This can be one of the mobility options for people who need assisted transport for getting around the city beyond a wheelchair.

Japan has the highest population of older citizens – the population aged 65 and over is expected to reach 40 percent by 2050. In order to respond to this demographic change, the Japanese government passed many acts, mandating to make mobility services more accessible to older citizens.

Since the implementation of these acts, there is a significant improvement in public transportation. However, this is not sufficient, because Japanese elderly people drive more compared to using transit systems. In order to resolve this issue, one of the Japanese auto makers introduced a single-seat self-driving car to aid and assist people who find walking or using public transit difficult.

How does this robot car help the elderly to move around safely?

This self-driving car is smartphone or tablet enabled – pick a destination on the map and the pathfinding system in the vehicle will take care of the rest. It is equipped with a navigation system which will help to get from point A to B, a gyro sensor helps the car to remain stable on uneven surfaces, 2D and 3D laser sensors will be used to judge distance from items and stereo cameras will be used to detect obstacles in its path.

The car is designed to maneuver easily through city streets, across pavements and footpaths. Sensors and guidance systems will help the vehicle to navigate around bumps, potholes and pedestrians. As the vehicle is designed to travel only at speeds up to 3.7 mph, it would not have to deal with many safety issues.

In case of emergencies or if needed, passengers can assume control over the vehicle by using a joystick located in the cockpit.

This vehicle not only transports people, but it can also be used as an autonomous delivery vehicle for a variety of services. As they weigh 450 pounds and run on a lithium battery, they can also be used indoors for getting in and out of elevators.

Currently, the vehicle is still in the development phase and it might take a few years before they actually roll out for public use.

Do you think robot cars can provide a better mobility option for the elderly? Share your opinion in our comment section.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.


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Like everyone else, elderly people depend on their driving to maintain their work, independence and social engagement. However, as they age, some older people are voluntarily giving up their driver’s license and are limiting their driving due to medical conditions. Powered mobility devices are going to aid them to continue and maintain their independence and quality of life.