OEMs should design accessible vehicles from the ground up, rather than retrofitting existing vehicle designs, which involves major, invasive electronic and hardware modifications.
Continue the Conversation: AVs Driving Employment for People with Disabilities
Standards are needed to ensure that AVs can accommodate all wheelchair sizes and weights, using low floors, ramps, or lifts, and standards are needed for wheelchairs to ensure they can be used in/with AVs.
AVs will need an automated tie-down mechanism to secure wheelchairs since there will not be a driver to assist.
Transportation network companies should require that the vehicles they purchase from OEMs be accessible.
AV developers need to leverage the user's smart phone, since accessibility features are built in that can allow the user to interact successfully with an app that sets pickup location, destination, and other vehicle controls while en route (e.g. the Lyft or Uber app).
States should not require driver's licenses to operate a highly automated vehicle; this would prevent those who are blind, older Americans who have lost the ability to drive, and people with cognitive disabilities from reaping the benefits of the technology.
AV developers should ensure that users who are Deaf or hard of hearing are able to interact with the vehicle through alternatives to voice-activated controls.
Wayfinding and safety information should be available to blind and low vision users, including tools for finding the vehicle, safely exiting the vehicle (avoiding getting out in oncoming traffic), and finding the door to one's destination.
AV developers should consider that some users will bring service animals into the vehicle
AV developers should design features that reduce anxiety, such as confirmation that the user has entered the right vehicle and has arrived at the desired destination, special lighting, and trip progress alerts.
Communication between the vehicle and the user is key; supports should be put in place to assist a user that has experienced a "failed trip" (in other words, has not arrived at the intended destination).
TNCs are partnering with cognitive disability advocacy organizations to provide rides to work, subsidized by the state.
States should provide wrap-around services to people with disabilities to ensure successful use of AVs, including travel training.
AV developers and policymakers should consider the privacy of user data, including disclosure of disability needed to request an AV equipped with the appropriate accessibility features.
Need to create a cost structure that works for rural communities. The challenge of deploying AVs to rural areas is that the cost increases as population density decreases, trips become longer, and there are more "dead miles," or trips where the vehicle is empty.