Google Believes Its Self-Driving Cars Will Be Great for Seniors

March 2, 2016, 5:07 PM UTC
A self-driving car traverses a parking lot at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California on January 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NOAH BERGER / AFP / Noah Berger (Photo credit should read NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Noah Berger—AFP/Getty Images

Google believes its self-driving cars could be a boon to senior citizens.

The tech giant says autonomous vehicles could offer increased mobility for those over 65 who may no longer be able to drive on their own, as Bloomberg reported. The comments come as Florence Swanson, 94, recently won a Google (GOOG) contest to paint the side of a self-driving car. As part of her prize, she became the oldest person so far to ride in one of the automobiles.

“You haven’t lived until you get in one of those cars,” Swanson told the publication. “I couldn’t believe that the car could talk. I felt completely safe.”

John Krafcik, who is in charge of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, had Swanson appear with him at a presentation in Detroit in January, according to Bloomberg. He explained how his mother, 96, and Swanson have had to give up their driver’s licenses due to age. But Google’s self-driving cars change that and offer more independence.

“A fully self-driving car has the potential to have a huge impact on people like Florence and my mom,” Krafcik told Bloomberg. “Mobility should be open to the millions around the world who don’t have the privilege of holding a driver’s license.”

But the news that seniors may find self-driving cars appealing comes at odds with a recently released AAA study that found about 75% of respondents would feel unsafe in such a vehicle.

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