Older community tries driverless shuttle

Older Australians in Canberra have been given the opportunity to get around on a driverless shuttle. (AAP)

A driverless bus has been ferrying the residents of an ACT retirement community in a trial aimed at improving older people's independence.

A driverless bus is revolutionising the way older Australians are getting around a retirement village in the nation's capital.

The autonomous shuttle has been in action at the IRT Kangara Waters aged care and retirement village in Canberra as part of a two-week trial that kicked off earlier this month.

Seating eight passengers, with an access ramp for people using mobility aids, the little bus has been running through the community in an eight-stop loop.

The loop includes a private road, with the ACT government giving the green light for it to be part of the experiment.

Community operators the IRT Group want to better understand how driverless vehicles can be used to help older people live more independently and connect more with others.

Some of their residents find it hard to get around without the help of friends or family members, leading to social isolation.

"Many residents are still mentally very capable but no longer drive due to common life changing events, such as the loss of a driver's licence due to age, a fall causing mobility difficulties, loss of hearing or eyesight," IRT Group chief executive Patrick Reid said.

The organisation has been measuring how participating residents have felt and changes in their behaviour.

They plan to share their findings with government and industry bodies, so they have more information to work with when creating policies for using driverless vehicles in aged care and elsewhere.

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