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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

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 mins ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.

Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial

Sarah Palin. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, delaying the start of her defamation trial against the New York Times.

Why it matters: The trial will be closely watched, as it's a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.

S&P 500 slides into correction territory

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their worst drop of the year, pushing the S&P 500 on track to fall into a "correction."

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading.