Aurrigo, a UK-based autonomous vehicle specialist, is to begin the world’s first trial of self-driving mobility solutions involving the blind and disabled.
The trial, which will start in April in the city of Brighton in the UK, will partner with Blind Veterans UK to develop a six-month program of testing to explore possible first- and last-mile solutions for autonomous technology in the future.
Individuals with visual impairment will be trialling a number of four-seat pods, which travel at a maximum speed of 15mph, in an off-road environment. Interestingly, the pods will also look to explore the use of voice activated control, something that could offer the blind greater independence and mobility options.
“Using information taken from our discussions with Guide Dogs and previous work with people with disabilities, we have made the pods suitable for people with vision impairments, including improved lighting and prominent colors on grab rails and seats,” said Miles Garner, sales and marketing director for Aurrigo.
“This trial is intended to see how the pods operate in a real-life environment and how veterans interact with them. We want to know about all the good things and we also want to know about things that need to be better – this should inform the next evolution of the pod and the changes/additions we may need to incorporate into the design.
“Having feedback from Blind Veterans UK and their members taking part will be a massive boost in improving our pods and making them more user-friendly for people with disabilities. This has never been done in the world before and we are delighted that Blind Veterans UK has helped make it happen.”