A universal design perspective on automated vehicles

A woman with blonde hair sits reading a magazine resting on the steering wheel of the car she is (not) driving. The road and other cars are visible through the windscreen as the photo was taken from the back seat.Whatever your thoughts about automated driving systems and vehicles, we need to make sure no-one is excluded in their design. The Sustainable Development Goals catch phrase, “Leave no-one behind”, is quite literal when it comes to transportation. However, the promise of increased mobility for everyone is yet to be realised. This is largely due to the complexities of transitioning from the current mode to the automated mode. So, a group in Sweden is taking a universal design perspective on automated vehicles to find solutions.  

Victor Malmsten Lundgren writes in a brief paper that there is limited insight into the promise of an inclusive mobility system. He reports on the Swedish group’s research where they used universal design as a guiding principle. 

A key insight is the importance of user experience. Overall accessibility is only as good as its weakest link in the journey. The researchers used the example of a wheelchair user and common tasks along the way. This revealed the many touchpoints involving different actors who need to be part of the solution. For example, the public transport provider’s role might begin and end at the bus stop without regard for the journey to it. 

The article has some technical detail but the aim of the article is to comment on the ongoing discussions. The paper concludes that there “must be continuous exploration of how automated vehicles and systems can be accessed and understood and used to the greatest extent possible”. 

The title of the paper is, Insights from a series of projects related to accessibility in an AV mobility landscape.


Automated driving systems have the potential to provide increased mobility for groups of people previously underserved. This brief paper presents insights from a series of projects specifically targeting accessibility in a public transport landscape containing automated vehicles (AVs). The work has been carried out in close collaboration between both private, public, and academic actors as well as with interest groups promoting specific critical users. Automated driving systems must be identified as a piece of a broader travel experience where universal design and inclusion should be guiding principles.

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