If You Build Automated Vehicles, Will Older Adults Come?

It’s a common tale. A new technology is introduced that will solve a big problem, particularly for a given demographic. But because of how it works, it only helps those who already have many solutions, rather than more vulnerable groups.

We saw this with e-scooters, pitched as a mobility solution for low-income transportation deserts. But the average users are middle-income. We saw this with rideshare, pitched as on-demand transportation for those who cannot drive, but blind and deaf individuals still have difficulty using these services. And now, without intervention, history may repeat itself with automated vehicles (AVs), pitched as a mobility solution for older adults who cannot drive. Older adults have widely varying functional and cognitive health and life circumstances like finances, living situations, and so forth. Whether they benefit from AVs may hinge on taking explicit steps. Lessons can be learned from experiences with other technologies.