The MerlinPrize (“the Challenge”) for accessible autonomous electric vehicles (A2EV) is a crowd-sourced design competition to generate innovative and inclusive transportation solutions for people with physical, sensory, and/or cognitive disabilities.
Automotive industry experts predict that electric vehicles (EVs) will surpass the number of gas-powered vehicles on the road in the coming decades, and virtually all autonomous vehicles are electric. Unfortunately, adapting an EV to make it accessible by individuals that require a fixed-frame electric wheelchair or scooter to date has been cost-prohibitive due to the extensive reconfiguration of critical components required to permit ingress and egress.
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The goal of this challenge is to change this equation and make autonomous, electric vehicles accessible for all. The focus of the Challenge is to develop accessible, autonomous electric vehicles that function as personal vehicles.
An individual in a wheelchair might require a ramp, while a person with low vision might rely on enhanced auditory alerts. The length of a prosthetic leg controls the need for legroom so that a prosthesis can reach the floor without causing pain, and the level of hearing loss drives the demand of an individual’s more tactile and visual senses.
Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 9:59 a.m. EEST, Sept. 14, 2020.