Connected and automated vehicles are being trialled across the world, but will their use and facility be universally designed? The arrival of the self-driving car could be life-changing for people who have been unable to own and/or drive a car. In their article, Towards Life-Long Mobility: Accessible Transportation with Automation, the authors explore some of the challenges and opportunities for automated vehicles for people usually excluded from driving. They conclude that the future of automated vehicles for currently excluded people seems to be promising.
Despite the prevalent discussions on automated vehicles, little research has been conducted with a focus on inclusiveness of traditionally excluded populations from driving. Even though we may envision a future where everyone can drive with perfect automation, the problem will not be that simple. As with any other problem domains, we need to scrutinize all the design considerations – not only each population’s characteristics (capabilities and limitations), but also the entire system, technological limitations, and task environments. To this end, the present paper explores challenges and opportunities of automated vehicles for multiple populations, including people with various difficulties/disabilities, older adults, and children. This paper brings up some controversial points and is expected to promote lively discussions at the conference.
Electric vehicles and wheelchair users
Good to see designers thinking about customising for the independent travel of wheelchair users. The designers claim that you can wheel yourself into the vehicle and drive yourself without the need for assistance from others.
Because the vehicle is small and box like, the wheelchair user can park so that the ramp will lower directly onto the footpath. This vehicle is available in the UK. We might have to wait for more electric vehicles to appear in Australia before this option is available here. See the website for dimensions and other information and more pictures.
Transport, Mobility and Society
The Centre for Transport and Society at the University of the West of England has a mission to understand the interactions between mobility, lifestyles and society in the context of our changing world. This includes equity in transport and mobility.
Professor Graham Parkhurst’s slideshow makes it easy to digest the concept of automated vehicles and the impact this technological change will have on society. One impact is the opportunity for greater equity in the independent use of motor vehicles. The slide show is quite long with some of the most interesting slides in the second half. Plenty to think about. Their webpage has links to other publications.