Advancements in accessible travel and ADA-compliant vehicles are underway…
May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and ride-share operations, is putting accessibility at the forefront. May Mobility is partnering with BraunAbility, the world’s leading manufacturer of mobility transportation solutions, to modify the May Mobility Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS (S-AM) fleet to include ADA-compliant vehicles.
This is part of May Mobility’s broader vision of improving accessibility and equity in transit through autonomous driving technology. The company is also integrating assistive technology within the vehicle cabin through speakers and a display to help people with audio and/or visual impairments see and hear when it is safe to enter and exit the vehicle.
“Ensuring that autonomous vehicles are developed in a way that advances transportation equity goals is a key pillar for May Mobility,” said Erin McCurry, product manager and accessibility lead at May Mobility. “In the U.S., 3.6 million people do not leave their homes because of travel-limiting disabilities. As we transition our fleet to the Sienna Autono-MaaS platform, we are working towards a future where everyone has access to safe, reliable transportation.”
The partnership with BraunAbility will produce an ADA-compliant, rear-entry conversion of May Mobility’s S-AM vehicles. The vehicles will be able to carry two ambulatory (non-wheelchair users) riders along with a rider using a wheelchair, or four ambulatory riders.
“Our founder, Ralph Braun, began engineering the very first automotive mobility solutions over 50 years ago,” stated BraunAbility CEO Staci Kroon. “Just like the evolution of automotive mobility, autonomous travel for wheelchair users is a journey of evolving technology. BraunAbility and May Mobility begin that new evolution together, and our solutions will be accessible to every wheelchair user.”
In addition to providing accessibility features for riders using mobility devices, May Mobility will also enhance the Sienna’s interior with audio and visual cues to inform riders of key journey moments, such as arriving at a stop, doors opening and closing, and departure.
“Designing for people with disabilities makes the entire product easier to use for everyone. We’re excited to launch these assistive technology features in every single new vehicle,” said McCurry.
The first modified S-AM vehicles will be phased in at all existing May Mobility sites in 2022. The partnership between May Mobility and BraunAbility lays the groundwork for further development and deployment of ADA-compliant vehicles and technologies in the future.
S-AM is Toyota’s autonomous-mobility as a service (Autono-MaaS) vehicle based on the Sienna that is being utilized for May Mobility’s public road testing. It features Toyota’s highly adaptable Vehicle Control Interface (VCI), that enables seamless technology integration with May Mobility’s autonomous driving kit (ADK) for robust operation of key vehicle control systems, such as steering, brakes and acceleration.