Accessible Autonomous Shuttles: Human Factors, Challenges, and Design Solutions
Assistant Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering
Unlocking the potential of automated vehicle technology to enhance mobility for users with disabilities requires that we understand the abilities, needs, and priorities of these user groups and, subsequently, use this information to guide engineering design. However, both knowledge of human factors and design tools that capture the abilities of people with mobility and vision impairments for use in driverless-vehicle design are lacking. This project will address specific knowledge gaps in the accessible and inclusive design of driverless shuttles in terms of human-system interaction (i.e., ingress, egress, and interior circulation) and collaboration during in-vehicle communication (i.e., information access via multimodal user-interface design). The project proposes two human-factors studies, involving 40 individuals with mobility and vision disabilities: (1) a controlled laboratory experiment in a full-scale, static, reconfigurable vehicle mock-up of an autonomous shuttle, and (2) a targeted, field-based usability evaluation of an operational autonomous shuttle. The studies will gather qualitative and quantitative user-performance data during simulated ingress, egress, interior circulation, and in-vehicle communication tasks relating to usability and accessibility of driverless shuttles.
(1) An instrumented testbed where we can develop and test accessible design solutions and evaluate usability issues related to driverless shuttles in a safe, controlled, and high-fidelity environment. (2) A set of design recommendations on how automated shuttles should be configured to support safe, efficient, and independent access for users with mobility and vision disabilities. (3) A web-based interactive design tool to support design for wheelchair accessibility on autonomous shuttles.