Voyage, the self-driving technology company that spun out of Udacity earlier this year when some executives and students decided to commercialize their work, has been testing its autonomous vehicles in a retirement community in San Jose, and is looking to expand its trial. The large community has over 4,000 residents living there. The challenging area allows the car to evolve and learn more quickly.
The gated environment is surprisingly ideal: 15 miles of roads with pedestrians, golf carts, animals and roundabouts for Voyage’s autonomous vehicles to learn how to drive around — but with a speed limit of 25 mph. This also means that, Voyage doesn’t have to share ride information with state regulators, freeing it from some bureaucracy.
Voyage also thinks retirement communities are a good target audience in terms of AV use: seniors who no longer drive themselves stand to benefit a lot from being able to regain independence through the use of self-driving ride-hailing services and on-demand transportation.
The cars can be summoned with an app on the iPhone. Voyage keeps talking about “ultra low-cost” for its rides, but there is no indication of how much a ride will cost. Although at this stage many of its competitors have a major head start, it is unclear how this new player will fit into the greater self-driving car picture.