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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

1 hour ago - Health

Treasury begins dispersing $350 billion in COVID relief funding to states and localities

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Monday began giving state and local governments access to $350 billion in emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan, the department announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though the money is aimed at helping state, local, territorial and tribal governments recover from the pandemic's economic fallout, the administration will generally give them wide latitude on how they can use the funds.

Game developers break silence around salaries

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Developers are sharing their salaries on Twitter under the hashtag #GameDevPaidMe to encourage pay transparency in their industry.

The big picture: The hashtag started circulating last year, but has returned periodically as developers fight for better working conditions. Salary sharing is a way to equalize the field. By removing the secrecy, as well as the stigma, around discussing pay, workers have more power to advocate for themselves when negotiating salaries and raises.

2 hours ago - World

Jerusalem crisis: Hamas fires rockets, Israel begins military campaign

Palestinian protesters and an Israeli police officer near the Damascus Gate. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Days of tension in Jerusalem escalated into an exchange of fire on Monday, as Hamas fired dozens of rockets toward Israel and the Israeli military responded with strikes of its own and said it was preparing for a military operation that could last several days.

Why it matters: This is the first time Hamas has fired rockets at Jerusalem since 2014, and it's the most serious escalation between the Israelis and Palestinians in many months. It comes during the most sensitive days on the calendar — the last days of Ramadan and the Jerusalem Day commemoration on Monday — and as political crises roil both the Israeli and Palestinian governments.