Design Guidelines for Achieving Accessible Autonomous Vehicles

Status: In Progress

Lead Researcher(s)

Kathleen Klinich

Project Team

Project Abstract

Automated vehicles (AV) intended for a shared service model need to provide options to accommodate people with mobility impairments, but what constitutes an accessible environment for these vehicles is not clearly defined. The Americans with Disabilities Act has specifications for public transportation that include provisions to facilitate wheelchairs for use as vehicle seating. However, many public transportation vehicles are much larger and have different constraints than the vehicle envisioned for AV fleets. Many other organizations (SAE, ESNA, NMEDA) have recommendations, measurement procedures, and guidelines that would make AVs usable by people with mobility disabilities. A subset of the ADA requirements can be combined with other vehicle guidelines and best practices to create a comprehensive set of guidelines for designing vehicles to accommodate people who use wheelchairs as motor vehicle seats. We propose developing a design guideline document that could be used by vehicle engineers to allow consistent evaluation of accessibility in AVs produced by different manufacturers. The guidelines would focus on assessing accommodations needed to ensure access for people with mobility disabilities. Where needed, procedures would be developed and tested for usability with different AVs and volunteers with mobility disabilities. The guidelines would also incorporate feedback from industry partners on their usability.

Project Outcome

For the proposed project, we will generate a document that compiles design guidelines relevant for ensuring that AVs are accessible for people with mobility disabilities. The guidelines will reference relevant information from existing regulations and recommended practices, add clarifying material where helpful, and develop new procedures where needed. Guidelines will be refined using feedback from volunteer participants in vehicles that do and do not meet the guidelines. Guidelines will also be revised to incorporate industry input. In addition to a standalone publication, the team will also seek a home for the guidelines in the publications of a standards group, such as SAE, ISO or RESNA.

BUDGET YEAR: 2021-07-01