Inclusive Design Challenge

Sponsor: US Department of Transportatation

Dates: January 2021 to June 2022

Researchers: Kathleen D. Klinich, Miriam Manary, Kyle Boyle, Nichole Orton

Collaborators: May Mobility, United Spinal, The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living (AACIL), Feonix Mobility Rising

For the initial phase of the Inclusive Design Challenge, we demonstrated the feasibility of using a UDIG-compatible docking system (coupled with an automated belt-donning system) in an electric Ford Transit modified for use by wheelchair users. Installing equipment in this vehicle allowed us to address many of the challenges that will occur in AV shuttles and other future vehicles. These challenges include installing vehicle anchorages and a wheelchair ramp in a vehicle where an array of batteries is located under the floor where these components usually would be attached or stored. It also allowed further study of the space required for a wheelchair user to maneuver into the docking station, and how the wheelchair seating station can be placed to optimize accessibility as well as space for other passengers in a van-sized shuttle.

Technical Report: Klinich KD, Orton NR, Manary MA, McCurry E, Lanigan T (2022) Independent Safety for Wheelchair Users in Automated Vehicles UMTRI 2022-4.

More information:

Link to video summary of project

Promotional/instructional video for the May Mobility/UMTRI IDC vehicle

Demo of volunteer exiting the lift, navigating to the wheelchair station, docking the wheelchair, and donning the seatbelt.