Japan tests self-driving cars to keep ageing motorists behind the wheel | ZDNet

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Japan is exploring the ways in which self-driving cars can help an ageing population remain mobile.The country, well-known for producing innovative technology and hosting the business hub which is Tokyo, is seeking ways to improve mobility as its workforce gets older and places more pressure on the young and government which is needed to support the elderly.According to statistics provided by the Japanese government, Japan’s population is in decline. The country’s population slid to 127.1 million, a fall for the fourth year running as of 2014.The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimates that by 2060, the population will decrease to 86.7 million. One in eight Japanese residents is believed to be at least 75 years old, and twice as many are at least 65 years old.If anything can be done to keep ageing workers mobile — and potentially keep them within the workforce or supporting themselves for a little longer — investment into new technologies leading to this concept are likely to be worthwhile for the island.Researchers from Kanazara University have shouldered the task. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the academic institution is working with officials in Suzu — a city at the tip of the Noto Peninsula — in testing self-driving vehicles for use by ageing drivers.The prototype, a self-driving Prius, was developed by the university. However, the overall aim is not just keeping the elderly mobile for longer, but also in keeping them safer. According to city official Naoyuki Kaneda, autonomous vehicles may bring down the risk factors associated with elderly drivers — especially as many citizens of Suzu are still behind the wheel when they are in their 80s and 90s.

Source: Japan tests self-driving cars to keep ageing motorists behind the wheel | ZDNet

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