Gaps and Opportunities in Accessibility Policy for Autonomous Vehicles
In this study, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Accessible Autonomous Vehicle (AAV) pilot aimed at working with public, especially with older adult population and people with disabilities, to get feedback on how Automated Vehicle (AV) technology could make a transit vehicle more responsive to their needs. The study was intended as a step towards ensuring accessibility as transportation systems move in the direction of automation. The objective of this study was to recommend specific policy and wording changes in relevant American Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations to accommodate and properly regulate automated transit services represented by the VTA.
- Provide multi-media content en-route to passengers in vehicles with automation. Many standard features from AAVs can be improved, including delivering multi-media content en-route to passengers with the help of features such as video/safety analytics, ramp deployment and actuation, and multi-lingual support and voice warning.
- Consider simple intuitive layouts and system controls for individuals with cognitive disabilities. The design simplicity of vehicles must accommodate individuals with cognitive disabilities with simple and intuitive layouts and system controls.
- Enhance in-vehicle voice control systems technologically. The evaluation showed that voice control systems and drop-off orientation can be further developed technologically, or additional service specifications should be provided through on-demand or on-call help services.
- Establish a dialogue between AAV developers on user experiences. This can be done through focus groups that can prove to a valuable source of learning for the industry and to gather greater informational symmetry on diverse user needs.
- Coordinate with local governments to build appropriate transit infrastructure. Local transportation agencies can partner with AAV developers to enhance infrastructure for AAV travel, particularly for mobility impaired riders.
- Create a greater density of established pick-up and drop-off locations. There should be more coordination, collaboration, prioritization and sharing of curb availability for accessible services in using limited spaces in urban areas.
- Digitize transit trip data. This can encourage greater multi-modal integration of future AAV services with existing transportation infrastructure.
- Use ADA standards as a tool to universally design assistive technologies. AAV applications need to utilize advanced solutions that provide incentives for public transit operators and contracted service providers to enhance their services and amenities in order to serve people with diverse needs.