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Photo: Renault

AV companies are understandably focused on trying to perfect their technology to address trust issues among the general public, but meanwhile, they're working on designs for those who could benefit most from mobility technology — the elderly and people with disabilities.

Why it matters: AVs will need to have accessible control panels, chassis modifications that accommodate wheelchairs, and advanced human-machine communication technology, not only to realize industry promises around mobility access, but also to be ADA-compliant once they begin to operate as commercial transportation services.

Where it stands: Automakers are focused on rolling out technology that will assuage concerns about safety and will build enthusiasm around the driverless experience. If the general public never warms up to AVs, they won't be available for anyone at all.

What we're watching: While auto shows have yet to showcase accessibility tech, there is reason to believe the industry is making progress:

  • General Motors, Ford, Nuro, NVIDIA, Uber, Waymo, Daimler and Zoox have submitted voluntary safety self-assessments to DOT/NHTSA that have described accommodations for riders who are blind, deaf or hard of hearing.
  • DOT's AV 3.0 regulatory guidance repeatedly refers to accessible vehicle design, an indication that they’ll be monitoring that as commercial services launch.
  • Toyota, Renault, and VW have announced concept cars that could be wheelchair accessible.

The bottom line: At both CES and at the Detroit Auto Show, accessibility improvements to AV technology were absent, but that doesn't mean the need for accommodations is being ignored.

Henry Claypool is a policy expert affiliated with UCSF and the AAPD, where he works on disability advocacy to automakers, and a former director of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office on Disability.

Go deeper

First-time homebuyers shrink as prices spike

Data: National Association of Realtors; Chart: Axios Visuals

Home sales cooled as prices continued to heat up in August.

Driving the news: The share of first-time existing homebuyers (29%) last month was the smallest in two years, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - World

Airbnb doubles number of Afghan refugees it will house to 40,000

Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August 2021. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday that they're offering temporary housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees worldwide, doubling a previous commitment.

The big picture: The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and Airbnb.org provide subsidies to hosts.

Florida lawmaker introduces abortion bill modeled after Texas law

A view of the old Florida Capitol building, which sits in front of the current new Capitol building, in Tallahassee. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday modeled after Texas' new law prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Similar bills introduced to the Florida legislature have failed, but that was before the Supreme Court declined to block Texas' law, which is the most restrictive abortion law to be enforced since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, according to AP.