Shifting Gears – Car Automation and Mobility

By now you may have heard the recent news out of California regarding autonomous car legislation. California Senate Bill 1298, which lays out the framework for the testing, development and deployment of self-driving vehicles, was signed Tuesday by Governor Jerry Brown.

While the technology will likely take time and effort to mature (Google CEO Sergey Brin predicts widespread availability within five years) it’s easy to envision the benefits offered by an autonomous car, such as increased safety, fuel efficiency, decreased traffic congestion and that block of “down time” for commute productivity which patrons of transit have long enjoyed. Undoubtedly, a perfected driverless car represents the absolute pinnacle of Intelligent Transportation Systems.

However, perhaps the greatest benefit offered would be the promise of increased mobility for individuals whose disabilities currently limit their transportation options. A fully developed driverless car has the potential to help fill the gaps in coverage of some existing human services transportation (HST) services, while also helping to stretch decreasing federal funds (such as the FTA New Freedom and Elderly Transportation programs) for traditional HST services.

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