Autonomous vehicles: will they be universally designed?

A small black and white pod shaped vehicleDriverless vehicles are being trialled across the world and that includes Australia. Developing regulations that keep up with technology is just one concern for policy makers. But what about users – will they get a say in the design of the technology? Autonomous vehicles will be a major mobility solution for those who are currently excluded from driving. This makes it essential to include them in the development of the technology, the interfaces with the technology and the vehicles themselves. For anyone interested in the progress of this topic, research by Amanatidis, Langdon and Clarkson is worth a look. Their paper, Inclusivity Consideration for Fully Autonomous Vehicle User Interfaces reports on their preliminary work. The paper was presented at the annual Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology CWUAAT 2018. Published by SpringerLink it requires institutional access or you can purchase. 

Abstract: Autonomous vehicles could become an important part of the mobility solution for members of society previously excluded from driving. This paper presents the results of an interview study on users’ needs and expectations of fully autonomous vehicles, and specifically on the inclusivity considerations that emerged. Six drivers and two individuals that are currently excluded from driving participated in this study. The main finding was that conventional multimodal interfaces would indeed enable a broader range of users to operate these vehicles. However, fundamental considerations such as the accessibility of displays and easy ingress/egress were of equal importance. We hope the emerging recommendations would form part of an inclusive set of user requirements to be taken into account by industry and academia when designing fully autonomous vehicle user interfaces. 

The picture is a prototype by RDM Group.