Volkswagen Group of America will begin talks with groups representing disabled Americans so it can possibly incorporate new features into its vehicles that would benefit paratransit fleet providers.
Volkswagen is seeking the discussions as it continues to develop automated vehicle technologies as part of its Inclusive Mobility Initiative, the company announced.
"Transportation is the key to full participation in society," said Scott Keogh, Volkswagen's president and CEO. "And for individuals with disabilities today, the options can be limited. Volkswagen is known as the people’s car company, and as the technology allows, we want to design vehicles that are more accessible."
Last year, the company began meeting with disability groups such as the National Federation of the Blind, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and the National Association of the Deaf. The meetings included workshops about disabilities relating to mobility, vision, hearing, and cognition.
Earlier this month, Volkswagen hosted a working meeting to help find design solutions for securing a wheelchair in future autonomous and electric vehicles. The event includes representatives from wheelchair manufacturers and securement providers, the We Will Ride Coalition of naitonal disability organizations, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and Volkswagen AG.
"There's been a lot of talk about what autonomous vehicles will provide, but for that potential to be realized, automakers will need to involve the disability community directly in the design and functionality of these vehicles,” said Carol Tyson, government affairs liaison for the fund. “That’s why we’re so encouraged to be working with the Volkswagen Group from the outset."