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White car on an asphault road.

Autonomous Vehicles (self driving cars)

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Self driving cars, once exclusive to science fiction novels, are coming to cities across Canada. Even more amazing is that these vehicles will not only be able to navigate without any human intervention but will do so while communicating with other vehicles!

CNIB, with partial funding from Transport Canada, has begun to try and answer many of the questions around connected autonomous vehicles and their potential impact on pedestrians with sight loss.

CNIB's research includes partnerships with the University of Toronto and Robert Wall Emerson, a Professor in Blindness and Low Vision Studies, from the University of Western Michigan. The research includes both a global literature review and a stakeholder survey.

The final report provides seven recommendations which CNIB hopes will inform policy development across Canada and even international jurisdictions. Our recommendations include:

  • Richer statistical analysis of road fatalities to capture characteristics of vulnerable road users;
  • Adoption of uniform traffic rules across Canada's disparate jurisdictions;
  • Future research initiatives need to apply a disability lens;
  • Accessibility and usability of onboard vehicle interfaces;
  • Smart city data models need to operate under an open data model facilitating access by systems and mobile apps which enable wayfinding for persons with sight loss;
  • Development of onboard algorithms which will respond appropriately should a pedestrian with sight loss inadvertently find themselves in a crosswalk in the wrong time;
  • Avoiding adoption of signals which rely exclusively on visual queuing to indicate a vehicle's state.

Read the full report here!