Aged Care Provider IRT Group Trials Autonomous Vehicle
Aged care and retirement village residents at IRT Kangara Waters in Canberra are participating in an autonomous vehicle trial this month.
Partly funded by Telstra Southern NSW & ACT, the two-week trial began on 10 May and marks the next stage in IRT’s autonomous vehicle project first announced in late 2017. The purpose of the project is to determine how the technology can be applied to improve independence and quality of life for older people.
IRT Group CEO Patrick Reid explained that IRT Kangara Waters was Australia’s first retirement village to experience the driverless technology during a one day demonstration in early 2018 that helped determine requirements for optimal resident accessibility.
“We’re grateful for the support of Telstra Southern NSW & ACT to help fund this next stage of the project and ACT government for working with us to approve the trial on a private Canberra road. We now have access to the EZ10 autonomous shuttle by EasyMile that will seat up to six passengers for the trial and has an easily deployable access ramp to accommodate passengers with mobility aids,” Mr Reid said.
“As we test the EZ10 on the private roads within IRT Kangara Waters we hope to better understand how it could help aged care and retirement living residents travel more independently and in turn reduce the social isolation that can occur when it’s hard to get out and about without the assistance of a friend or family member.
“Many residents are still mentally very capable but no longer drive due to common life changing events, such as the loss of a driver’s licence due to age, a fall causing mobility difficulties, loss of hearing or eyesight.”
During the trial residents have been making the most of the vehicle, boarding and alighting from it along an eight stop loop of the Community. Each of the stops was carefully selected to enable residents to more easily visit friends and neighbours and make use of the Community’s services and amenities, including the onsite café, pool, gym, hairdresser and community centre.
Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected throughout the trial to measure perception shifts and behavioural change in participating residents. Findings from the trial will be shared with government and industry bodies to inform future public policy governing the sustainable adoption and integration of autonomous vehicle technologies in an aged care and retirement living setting and in the greater community.
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