Baby boomers seen to spur demand for self-driving vehicles

Article by Anita Panait, on October 24, 2013

Baby boomers continue to become good target for business, and will soon become the target of companies developing autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars. With baby boomers continuing to age in countries like the United States and Japan, it is expected that there will be a growing number of older drivers killed or injured in vehicular accidents.

In fact, around 90 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error. With their safety on mind, the elderly are expected to demand for self-driving cars, which boast of safety as their key attribute. "Seniors are often regarded as the victims of traffic accidents," Moritaka Yoshida, managing officer and chief safety technology officer at Toyota, remarked as the Japanese carmaker disclosed plans for automated-driving systems. He noted that recently, an increasing number of accidents have been caused by senior drivers.

Japan itself is the world’s fastest-aging major economy, and more than half – 2,264 of 4,411 – of traffic deaths in the country in 2012 involved drivers who were 65 or older, according to data from the National Police Agency. Zhou Lei, a senior manager and auto-industry consultant at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting Co., told Bloomberg by phone that driver-assistance and autonomous-driving technologies will definitely help stimulate demand among the elderly by “assuring them driving can be very safe."

He said that the situation in Japan will also happen in the US as well as emerging countries like China. Carmakers are little by little but steadily introducing automated-driving systems that may eventually lead to developing of self-driving vehicles.

In fact, Google has been testing driverless cars in the US. Toyota recently announced that in two years, it will roll out systems that will allow cars to communicate with each other to avoid collisions. GM is also planning to introduce by the end of the decade vehicles that are able to drive themselves on controlled-access highways. [source: Bloomberg]

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