15 teams awarded $41 million to improve transportation access to persons with disabilities and individuals with mobility challenges

Through two Department of Transportation design challenges that are meant to improve transportation access to persons with disabilities and individuals with mobility challenges, 15 teams in 15 states will be awarded more than $41 million, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6. 

“These exciting projects support the development of new innovative, inclusive, and affordable transportation technologies that address mobility and access challenges,” Secretary Chao said

Through its Complete Trip - ITS4US Deployment Program, the Department awarded over $38 million to five awardees. According to USDOT, the projects will enable communities to showcase innovative business partnerships, technologies, and practices that promote independent mobility for all.

The effort, which will take place over three phases, brings together public-sponsored and private-sponsored research. It will also address the challenges of planning and executing complete trips by creating “large-scale, replicable deployments” that generate increased mobility options across multiple modes of transportation.

The Complete Trip - ITS4US Deployment Program received 24 eligible proposals by organizations from 15 states. The winning teams and projects are: California Association of Coordinated Transportation (CALACT); Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC); Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HITRA); University of Washington; and ICF International, Inc.

Through its Inclusive Design Challenge, the Department also awarded $3 million to 10 semifinalists. The Department explains that the multi-stage competition seeks design solutions to make Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) more accessible to persons with disabilities through hardware or software solutions that enable independent use of AVs by persons with disabilities or mobility issues.

Each project received $300,000 and will have 18 months to develop their proposed ideas into prototypes. The Department will later select three final winners that will receive the remaining $2 million of the $5 million total prize in 2022.

The Inclusive Design Challenge received 47 eligible applications from industry, academic institutions, and individuals representing 21 states. The winning teams and projects are: Waymo; AbleLink Smart Living Technologies; Foresight Augmented Reality LLC; Purdue University; University of Kansas; University of Maine; Boston University; May Mobility; Carnegie Mellon University - Human-Computer Interaction Institute; and Clemson University.

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