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Talking About the Future of Mobility

Residents of Rochester Hills, Michigan, learn about and discuss "driverless cars"

Self-Driving Cars in Rochester Hills, Michigan

Photo by AARP

Driverless car pilot programs are operating throughout the nation, including Rochester Hills, Michigan, where AARP and the city government (that's Mayor Bryan Barnett "at the wheel") brought residents together to discuss how autonomous vehicles can transform communities and extend mobility options for older adults. (Scroll down to see a video of the event.)

Getting Around

AARP is working to educate older adults about how they can use transportation technologies (be they in new cars or autonomous vehicles, or through ride-sourcing apps and services like Uber and Lyft) to get around. AARP is also working with local governments to ensure that older adults are included in a community’s planning and thinking about self-driving cars.

In November 2018, AARP MichiganAARP Livable Communities and AARP Driver Safety partnered with the City of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and the Older Persons Commission to host an event focused on autonomous vehicles (a.k.a. “AVs,” “self-driving cars” or “driverless cars”) and the future of mobility.

The unique event (shown in the two videos, below) brought together residents from Rochester Hills and nearby communities to learn more about AVs and other vehicle technology advancements. A panel discussion featured Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett; Paul Fleck, CEO of Dataspeed (a local autonomous technology company); and Jean Setzfand, a senior vice president at AARP.

Community members were eager to ask questions. (Two examples: “What are the maintenance schedules for autonomous vehicles?” “How will the technology function in places that get a lot of snow — like Michigan?”) Following the panel discussion, the audience was invited to check out a parked autonomous vehicle and participate in a “pop-up” version of AARP Driver Safety’s Smart DriverTEK workshop, which educates drivers about the safety technology available in cars today.

The many inquiries and comments from attendees demonstrated a strong interest in understanding how technology can foster mobility options that will help people remain in their communities as they age. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the gathering was when a woman with impaired vision asked how soon autonomous vehicles would be readily available so she could use a self-driving car to get around town more easily.

The first video shows highlights from the gathering, the second features the entire November 5, 2018, event.

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