Self-Driving Vehicles for Minnesotans with Disabilities

The following organization may be of interest to streets.mn readers:

Self-Driving Minnesota Task Force

Self-Driving Minnesota Task Force


On January 16th, over 50 people came to the Self-Driving Vehicles for Minnesotans with Disabilities kick-off event and explored how we might make self-driving vehicles accessible, reliable and affordable to many Minnesotans with disabilities.

Representative Jason Isaacson (in person), and Senator Matt Schmit (by pre-recorded video) declared their support for our work and their commitment to sponsor legislation in this year’s session. If passed, this legislation would create a “self-driving vehicles for Minnesotans with disabilities” task force.

The kick-off event participants had conversations about each of the five task force focus areas: legislation and public policycommunity engagementtechnologysocial impact measures, and business and service delivery models. You can view the harvest from our conversations here.

At the end of the meeting, over 20 participants volunteered to work on one or more of the focus areas!

So Now What?

Our focus now turns to working with Representative Isaacson and Senator Schmit to procure state support for our task force, and get a pilot project started as soon as possible.

This means that our Legislation and Policy Team (with its 10 members!) is already hard at work drafting content for the legislation for consideration in this year’s legislative session, which begins on March 8th. The Community Engagement Team will launch in the next couple weeks to build support for this legislation throughout the state. Expect to hear updates from these two teams by the end of this month.

How Can I Help? 

There’s a lot to do to get the legislation written and passed this session. Here are a couple things you could do right now.

  • If you are interested in serving on any of the focus area teams, please fill out our “How You Can Help” form.
  • Help us build our network of supporters. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, pet’s groomer, neighbors (you get the idea) about how important it will be for self-driving vehicles to be accessible, reliable and affordable for Minnesotans with disabilities. Encourage people to go to selfdrivingmn.orgto learn more about our efforts and sign-up using our “How You Can Help” form.

What’s Next?

We’ll be sending you updates on our efforts to get the task force creation legislation written and passed.

In the mean time, if you have ideas for ways we can build public support for self-driving vehicles for people with disabilities, please connect with the team at info@selfdrivingmn.org. We’d love to hear from you!​

Thanks for your support!

Eric

SelfDrivingMN.org

1009 Cannon Avenue ShoreviewMN 55126 United States

Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

,

3 Responses to Self-Driving Vehicles for Minnesotans with Disabilities

  1. Matt Steele February 11, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    As someone who cares deeply about someone else who may never be able to drive a car, it’s good to hear that self-driving vehicles can expand mobility for him in the future. Our automobile-dominated land use excludes people with disabilities who cannot drive, and that pains me.

    I still don’t see autonomous vehicles as a cure for this predicament. It doesn’t help people who cannot afford vehicles (though obviously it will lower the costs tremendously for those who currently need someone else to do the driving). It also comes with many of the social costs associated with solo vehicular mobility, such as wide streets and diffuse origins and destinations.

    Better walkability and transit are two things which would help people with disabilities, to help them live more self-directed, fulfilling lives within our communities. Self-driving cars would help and should be pursued, but we could significantly improve walkability and transit tomorrow if we had the political will to do it.

  2. Doug February 12, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    It’s cool how these legislators only care about disadvantaged people when it means they can legalize expensive consumer products.

  3. Scott February 13, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    As an urbanist and someone who is actually blind, I’ve been thinking about this lately as self-driving cars make the news more frequently. In an ideal world improved transit, urban design, and pedestrian environment would be better for everyone. In practice we seem to be moving incredibly slowly (if at all) towards those things. In general it is far more convenient and comfortable to drive just about anywhere around here.

    So, the self-driving car seems more and more appealing- especially when I stand for 15 minutes at my bus stop with no shelter in -20′ F wind chills. I am not poor, but imagine the self-driving car technology will be extremely expensive at first. So,, this effort at the Legislature seems worthwhile.