Self-driving cars are the future of road travel, but the technology needs to get a footing somewhere before becoming a thing. We’ve seen demonstrations for years, but the cars have yet to roll-out in numbers in and out of the United States.
A lot of experts believe self-driving cars will make an impact in a controlled environment first, which makes sense. It’s just not yet feasible to put these vehicles on public roads that are filled with human drivers and other commuters. So to get things started, companies are looking to residential neighborhoods that aren’t overrun with specific dangers.
One of the first companies to venture down this path is no other than Voyage. The company opened up shop in a California community in San Jose. We understand there are around 4,000 residents in this gated community, and 15 miles of road for Voyage’s self-driving cars to strut their stuff.
What’s the big idea then?
For self-driving cars to get better at what they do, they need real-world testing. At the moment, it doesn’t make sense to have these vehicles running a mock on public streets where they could malfunction and cause damage, so a controlled area such as a gated community is a great spot.
The community in question is called The Villages, and it has a speed limit of 25 mph, which helps to reduce any potential risk should things go awry. Additionally, this place is a gated community for the elderly, so there’s a lot of good going on here.
“Our communities are wonderful places, but wherever you have roadway, chaos awaits! The Villages is no exception, with numerous intersections, crosswalks, lanes, roundabouts, construction, pedestrians, U-turns, one-way streets, animals, cars, and much more,” according to a statement on Voyage’s website.
How did Voyage cut a deal to enter The Villages?
In California, companies with autonomous vehicle business plans must prepare $5 million worth of insurance coverage. However, for Voyage to bring its technology to The Villages for testing, it must pay 50 percent more in insurance coverage, putting the total number to $7.5 million.
This was requested because the community is private and with increased liability.
What we have here is just the beginning of Voyager’s overall plan, which is to branch out into larger communities in the future, and ultimately an entire city. A place such as The Villages with its small population of citizens who aren’t traveling much outside of the area should give the team at Voyager all the necessary data needed to help beef up its self-driving technology.
As it stands, the future of self-driving cars is looking quite bright. Humans may never have to control a vehicle manually should things go as planned. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? We’ll find out.