In the U.K., things are a bit crowded. It's hard to buy a house, it's hard to find an apartment and it's hard to just up and move.
 
So, for the growing senior population, it's a bit optimistic to ask them all to hand over their licenses the minute their eyesight starts going.
 
In light of this unavoidable truth, the program nicknamed “Granny Nav” is being developed to combat this. It uses visual cues to help better inform the driver (and the car) of where they are in order to avoid the necessity of last second decisions.
 
Researchers at Newcastle University tricked out an electric car with all of the sensors and monitors you'd want to outfit a mobile lab with and took the DriveLAB through it's paces. The result of that research is going to be the aforementioned “Granny Nav.”
 
It's interesting to note that the rationale behind throwing tech at this problem, instead of the obvious solution – taking seniors off the road – is losing the ability to drive, and the independance attached, can be one of the first stages to “giving up”. Seniors who can't choose where and when they go places are more liable to just settle in to a prescribed routine and fall into worse health than when they had the ability.
 
By giving them the option to drive longer – and hopefully safer – the idea is that they might maintain their independance and social life longer than seniors who were stuck living in an assisted care facility.
 
Hopefully the end of this story is a few seniors who are now driving safer if they drive at all, and not that this was a poor replacement for a young set of reflexes.
 
JD
 
Original articleU.K. funds ‘Granny Nav’ tech to help elderly keep their cars (Globe and Mail Technology)
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