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U.S. DOT Offers $5 Million to Boost Accessibility in Autonomous vehicles

U.S. DOT Offers $5 Million to Boost Accessibility in Autonomous vehicles

Inclusive Design Challenge

Autonomous vehicles are coming and in the news all the time. Now, there is another need to be addressed in regard to autonomous vehicles. An important sector of society needs acknowledgment. The U.S. Department of Transportation has created the Inclusive Design Challenge, a competition to help ensure autonomous vehicles are accessible to people with disabilities.

The Inclusive Design Challenge follows in the tradition of the DARPA Grand Challenge and DARPA Urban Challenge. As a result, both of those competitions fueled the race to commercialize self-driving cars staged by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2004. The goal, this time out, is to make it simpler for people with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities to use automated vehicles. These projects can involve software and hardware.

“It’s important to act now, while AV technology is in its infancy and designs are evolving,” according to Finch Fulton, deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy. Finch also said they have partnered with the private-sector innovators. They have created this technology early on. So they can shape the development and ensure it can be accessible for all as the technology develops. Fulton spoke on Tuesday, September 22nd, in a webinar presented by Partners for Automated Vehicle Education.

Stage One of the Competition is Underway

The department is now accepting entries through October 30. Officials will name as many as 10 semifinalists early next year. Those semifinalists will receive $300,000 each to help take their prototypes to stage two. At the end of Stage Two, three finalists of the competition will receive the remainder of the $5 million prizes first. Additional monies are available to possibly use in the future to shape these initiatives and keep the competition going.

All entries for the Inclusive Design Challenge competition will be judged on technical merit, production feasibility, and potential impact on the lives of people with disabilities. Innovators must pay attention and address the entire trip. First, the vehicle has to be located. Next, one needs to be able to enter the vehicle. Then, you also need to secure the passengers and equipment. In addition, you have to put information about where you want to go. You also need to be able to interact with systems, during normal situations or when something goes wrong in an emergency situation. Finally, you have to be able to exit it and get to where you’re going.

To Participate In The Competition, Click Here To Enter. (Proposals are due October 30, 2020, with semifinalists to be selected in early 2021.)

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