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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Over $41 Million in Awards for Innovative Technologies to Improve Transportation Mobility and Access for Persons with Disabilities

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced today that the Trump Administration will award more than $41 million to 15 teams in 15 states through two Department of Transportation design challenges to improve transportation access to persons with disabilities and individuals with mobility challenges.

“These exciting projects support the development of new innovative, inclusive, and affordable transportation technologies that address mobility and access challenges,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The Department awarded over $38 million to 5 awardees through its  Complete Trip - ITS4US Deployment Program. The projects will enable communities to showcase innovative business partnerships, technologies, and practices that promote independent mobility for all. The three-phased effort brings together public-sponsored and private-sponsored research. It also will create large-scale, replicable deployments that generate increased mobility options across multiple modes of transportation to address the challenges of planning and executing complete trips. 

The Department also awarded $3 million to 10 semifinalists through its Inclusive Design Challenge. The multi-stage competition seeks design solutions to make Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) more accessible to persons with disabilities through hardware or software solutions that enable independent use of AVs by persons with disabilities or mobility issues. The 10 projects, each receiving $300,000, will have 18 months to develop their proposed ideas into prototypes. The Department will later select three final winners that will receive the remaining $2 million of the $5 million total prize in 2022.

The Complete Trip - ITS4US Deployment Program received 24 eligible proposals by organizations from 15 states. The winning teams and projects are:

  • California Association of Coordinated Transportation (CALACT)
    • Location: California, Oregon, and Washington
    • Project: Plan, Book, and Pay for Demand-responsive Transit Agencies in CA, OR, or WA
    • Award: $5,311,000
  • Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC)
    • Location: Gwinnet County, Georgia
    • Project: Safe Trips in Connected Transportation Network
    • Award: $9,388,404
  • Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HITRA)
    • Location: Dallas County, Iowa
    • Project: Health Connector for the Most Vulnerable: An Inclusive Mobility Experience from Beginning to End
    • Award: $3,956,806
  • University of Washington
    • Location: Baltimore, Maryland, Portland, Oregon, Bellevue, Washington
    • Project: Accessible Mapping Standards and Data Collaboration Drive Accessible Multimodal Active Transportation and Mobility
    • Award: $11,459,000
  • ICF International, Inc.
    • Location: Buffalo, New York
    • Project: Complete Trip Deployment in Buffalo, NY
    • Award: $8,235,661

The Inclusive Design Challenge received 47 eligible applications from industry, academic institutions, and individuals representing 21 states. The winning teams and projects are:

  • Waymo
    • Location: Mountain View, California
    • Project: AV Wayfinding
    • Award: $300,000
  • AbleLink Smart Living Technologies
    • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
    • Project: WayFinder ADS
    • Award: $300,000
  • Foresight Augmented Reality LLC
    • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
    • Project: Accessibility for Sensory Disabilities and Aging Populations Traveling on Automated Vehicles
    • Award: $300,000
  • Purdue University
    • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
    • Project: Efficient, Accessible and Safe Interaction in a Real Integrated Design Environment for Riders with disabilities (EASI RIDER)
    • Award: $300,000
  • University of Kansas
    • Location: Lawrence, Kansas
    • Project: Optimizing Highly Automated Driving Systems for People with Cognitive Disabilities
    • Award: $300,000
  • University of Maine 
    • Location: Orono, Maine
    • Project: Autonomous Vehicle Assistant (Ava): Ride-hailing and localization for the future of accessible mobility
    • Award: $300,000
  • Boston University
    • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
    • Project: OpenGuide: A Scalable Human-Like Guidance System for Visually Impaired Travelers
    • Award: $300,000
  • May Mobility
    • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Project: Independent Safety for Wheelchair Users in AVs
    • Award: $300,000
  • Carnegie Mellon University - Human-Computer Interaction Institute
    • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • Project: Promoting personal control of AVs through inclusive smartphone communication interfaces
    • Award: $300,000
  • Clemson University
    • Location: Clemson, South Carolina
    • Project: Accessible Technology Leverage for Autonomous vehicles System: ATLAS II
    • Award: $300,000