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Driverless Cars Promise Far Greater Mobility For the Elderly and People With Disabilities

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Legally blind Steve Mahan was the first non-Google employee to ride alone in the companys autonomous car.

Autonomous vehicles stand to benefit mobility-challenged seniors and others with disabilities.

Credit: Waymo

Autonomous vehicles stand to benefit mobility-challenged seniors and other people with physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities, and designers, automakers, and federal regulators are working to help address the issues involved in making that possible.

Driverless car developers are attempting to strike a balance between keeping riders fully apprised while also maintaining a certain level of simplicity in the riding experience. Waymo, for example, says it has embedded design elements in its driverless car technology that are intended to help the elderly and people with disabilities, starting with an accessible smartphone app that promotes ease of use.

Waymo also notes it is investigating techniques in which a vehicle could emit an audible signal to a blind person when it arrives for pickup, and keep the passenger informed of progress to their destination.

Meanwhile, hearing-impaired passengers will be able to follow the vehicle on screens displaying selected information, including their route, traffic signals, crosswalks, other cars, pedestrians, and cyclists.

From The Washington Post
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