What’s Happening: PARAVAN GmbH has been providing drive-by-wire systems such as Space Drive for over 20 years, allowing people with mobility impairments to achieve independent mobility. As more vehicles with alternative drive systems are in demand, and customer demand for assistance systems that reduce the hurdle to independent mobility or for autonomous driving functions is increasing. The implementation of autonomous driving could potentially open up further opportunities for people with disabilities.
Why It Matters: The implementation of autonomous driving could potentially allow people with disabilities access to independent mobility, which is not currently possible due to their medical condition. However, there are many challenges to overcome before this can happen, including designing vehicle concepts that are inclusive and barrier-free from the outset.
- Existing assistance systems can already offer significantly more options for people with disabilities, combined with a significant increase in safety.
- Level 4 and 5 autonomous driving could also give more people with a handicap access to independent mobility, but there are many hurdles to overcome before this can happen.
- Fully autonomous vehicles could enable people with disabilities to be mobile in the future, but new – inclusive – interior concepts will need to be developed to make this possible.
- New mobility concepts such as fully autonomous people movers could give many more people access to self-determined mobility, but individual assistance systems must be developed for this area of application.
- The vehicle industry is facing a disruptive change in vehicle design and individual mobility, and it will require the joint efforts of everyone to design mobility in a fundamentally barrier-free and sustainable way in the future.
Bottom Line: While the implementation of autonomous driving could enable mobility for all, there are many challenges to overcome before this can happen. The vehicle industry must work together to design mobility in a fundamentally barrier-free and sustainable way to ensure that no one is left behind.