IE's Brad Duerstock Chosen for Cruise Accessibility Council
Duerstock is one of about a dozen or more persons with disabilities that have been chosen by Cruise to provide input on the design and service of their autonomous vehicles (AV's) from an outsider perspective. According to Duerstock, people with disabilities account for roughly 20% of the US population, but inclusive design remained an afterthought with previous vehicle designs.
"In the past with the design of combustion engine vehicles, airplanes, and trains the inclusion of people with disabilities was an afterthought. The result of this lack of consideration for inclusive design or simply designing for the 80 percentile of the population has led to the exclusion of people with disabilities, which make up approximately 20% of the US population, from access to employment, higher education, adequate healthcare, and fully participating in their communities and leisure activities."
Duerstock also points out that with current vehicle designs the lack of inclusive design quite often leads to brand new vehicles being drastically overhauled to provide the necessary accommodations for wheelchair users. This type of modification comes at a substantial cost of about $30-40k on top of the regular retail cost of the vehicle. By launching the accessibility council and gathering feedback from a diverse cross-disability group of advocates Cruise will likely prevent this from reoccuring.
Founded in 2013, Cruise provides driverless ride services via AV's in San Francisco, Austin and Phoenix, with plans to expand beyond these areas. Cruise also plans to begin production on the Origin delivery vehicle in 2023. According to the company, accessibility is core to their mission of "connecting people to the places and things they care about."
Michele Lee's Blog Announcement of Accessibility Council
Forbes interview with Michele Lee of Cruise