Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to reshape the transportation landscape for people with disabilities, especially those individuals who cannot get a driver’s license today, but wouldn't need one with this new technology.
In the U.S. alone, there are 3 million people over 40 who are blind or have low vision. Additionally, 79% of seniors 65 and over live in car-dependent communities. For the full potential of autonomous vehicles to be realized, the vehicles must be accessible and usable to the broad spectrum of those who live with a disability.
Waymo is working with and listening to the disability community and advocates for seniors to learn about the unique needs of different riders. These conversations are helping to inform Waymo’s specific features.
Waymo is designing its mobile app to be used with accessibility services including Android TalkBack, iOS VoiceOver, and others.
Riders will be able to turn on audio cues that will help keep them informed about their journey. Waymo is also exploring specific “wayfinding” features, such as the ability to ask the vehicle to make a sound when it is nearby so that riders can more easily find it.
Waymo’s self-driving vehicles use braille to allow vision-impaired riders to easily find the buttons to start the ride, pull over the vehicle, or call for rider assistance.
Deaf and hard of hearing riders will have access to on-screen visual cues of what is happening around the vehicle during every phase of their Waymo ride.
Waymo’s chat-based rider support will be available to riders of all abilities through visual displays or audio inside the vehicle.