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IRT Kangara Waters Trials Innovative New Autonomous Vehicle

Retirement Living Care Services Carer Support Innovation & Research Connectedness Community Health Independence Industry Lifestyle
31 July 2019
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Aged care and retirement village residents at IRT Kangara Waters in Canberra participated in an autonomous vehicle trial.

Partly funded by Telstra Southern NSW & ACT, the two-week trial began on 10 May and marked the next stage in IRT’s autonomous vehicle project first announced in late 2017. The purpose of the project is to determine how driverless vehicles and automated technology can be applied to improve the independence and quality of life for older Australians.

IRT Kangara Waters was Australia’s first retirement village to experience the driverless technology back in early 2017, which helped determine the requirements for resident accessibility and usability.

Testing the EZ10 on the private roads within IRT Kangara Waters will allow a better understanding of how to encourage aged care and retirement living residents to travel more independently and in turn reduce the social isolation that can occur when it’s hard to get out and about.

During the trial, residents made 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 analysed after the trial to measure perception shifts and behavioural change in participating residents. Over 300 residents used the autonomous vehicle with excited and rave reviews, and the electric vehicle travelled over 250km, so a nice little bonus that came from the project was that it approximately saved more than 45,000g of carbon being released into the atmosphere. 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.

“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,” IRT Group CEO Patrick Reid said.

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