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U.S. Access Board Holds Second Session of Public Forum on Inclusive Design of Autonomous Vehicles

March 25, 2021

The U.S. Access Board held its second virtual public meeting on inclusive design of autonomous vehicles (AVs) yesterday. The session continued discussion on entering and exiting AVs and addressed wheelchair maneuvering and securement in AVs. Guest speakers presented research findings and solutions, and members of the public were able to share comments, suggestions, and information and pose questions. 

Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Office of Disability Employment Policy, opened the session and emphasized transportation as one of the most important components of employment success and independent living for people with disabilities. Access Board Accessibility Specialist Scott Windley briefly reviewed current ADA standards that apply to entering, maneuvering, and securement in vehicles in general and introduced guest speakers Bryan Brilhart of Robotic Research, Dr. Kathleen D. Klinich and Miriam A. Manary of University of Michigan, and Dr. Jordana Maisel of the University at Buffalo.  

Bryan Brilhart presented a Robotic Research project, Paralift, that considered safety systems and surroundings, various wheelchair configurations, and curb and platform detection and sensors in the design of AVs. Dr. Kathleen D. Klinich and Miriam A. Manary discussed an ongoing research project focused on an automated wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint system that ensures an equal level of safety for those who remain seated in wheelchairs while traveling. Dr. Jordana Maisel reviewed research findings and implications on maneuvering and securement on fixed route buses, specifically with regards to interior seating layouts and three different securement systems (4-point tiedown, 3-point forward facing, and semi-automated rear-facing). The presentations were followed by an engaging open discussion between the presenters and session attendees. 

A recording of the session and copies of the presentations are available on the Board’s AV webpage.  

The next session in the series will take place April 7 and will cover ride hailing and on-board communication for passengers with sensory or cognitive disabilities. This session will be followed by the series’ final session on accessibility for passengers with sensory or cognitive disabilities on April 21. All sessions are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Visit the Board’s website for further details or to register. You can also sign up to receive updates on the sessions by email.  

In addition to the virtual meetings, an online discussion platform is currently open to the public to share ideas and questions on designing AVs that are accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities. Dialogues on accessibility for passengers with sensory or cognitive disabilities and next steps are now open for comment. 

Direct questions about the forum to Randall Duchesneau III at events@access-board.gov or (202) 272-0044.