On October 29, 2019, U. S Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the Department’s plans for an upcoming inclusive design challenge (Challenge). The Challenge seeks new ideas for creating inclusive design solutions to both create and enable accessible automated vehicles (AVs). These design solutions will lead to increased independent mobility for persons with disabilities. Achieving this goal requires a significant step forward, as few accessibility features are designed and built into conventional passenger vehicles available today. The Challenge is a part of a larger set of departmental initiatives on accessibility, including the Access and Mobility for all Summit.
The Challenge intends to seek solutions to improve passenger vehicle accessibility, encourage cross-disciplinary collaborations, incentivize development of new designs and technologies, and tap into the creativity and knowledge of the disability community, researchers, advocates, and entrepreneurs.
The Challenge asks researchers and innovators to develop solutions to solve our most pressing access barriers for persons with sensory, cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Design teams from academic and research institutions, the business sector, technology companies and analytics firms are invited to compete for cash prizes through a two-stage Challenge. Solutions may include both hardware and software solutions aimed to address barriers including:
Locating an AV;
Entering an AV;
Interacting with the vehicle in routine and emergency situations; or
Exiting an AV.
The total prize purse for the Challenge is approximately $5,000,000, with initial submitters competing for various stages of proto-type development awards, and final-stage designers competing for a portion of the grand prize.
The Challenge will be conducted in two phases:
Stage I – Proof-of-Concept Ideas - Proposals due spring 2020; Selections in June 2020
Stage II – Prototype/Demonstrations - Final demonstration Jan. 2021; grand prize in spring 2021
Request for Information
A Request for Information (RFI) to solicit comments on the proposed Challenge design and evaluation methods is now available on the Federal Register. Responses to the RFI must be received by January 31, 2020, no later than 5:00 p.m. (ET).
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