There is a lack of reliable, accessible, and effortless transportation for people with disabilities (PwD), contributing to the number of challenges this community already faces. Transportation difficulty corresponds to the lower rate of employment, education, income, and increased isolation, all of which exacerbate medical conditions or depression and diminish overall quality of life (Claypool et al., 2017). In order to combat this issue of transportation for people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities, The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created the Inclusive Design Challenge focused on developing an innovative design solution for Automated Driving System-dedicated vehicles (ADS-DV).
After considering the existing and emerging solutions for transportation of PwD, the team determined the design criteria for future ADS-DV should consist of efficiency, accessibility, and safe user interaction (EASI) to ensure an independent and seamless travel experience. With these criteria in mind, the Team created our Efficient, Accessible, and Safe Interaction in a Real Integrated Design Environment for Riders with disabilities (EASI RIDER) solution and submitted the written proposal to the Department of Transportation Inclusive Design Challenge Stage I - Proof-of-Concept Ideas in 2018. Our design solution was selected as one of the 10 Challenge semifinalist to move forward with Stage II - Prototype/Demonstrations slated for 2022. Finally, after the final design presentations, the EASI RIDER project was selected to receive the first place award.