Imagine if you couldn't see well enough to drive and how that would change your life. I see this scenario every day at home with my wife who is legally blind and a very busy person. She adores Uber and Lyft for giving her the still remarkable opportunity to get up and go whenever she wants, wherever she wants. Imagine her excitement a year ago when she got a quick ride in a Waymo self-driving taxi. The security driver asked my wife to buckle up and press the start button. Yes exactly! Where is that start button?
We all had chuckles because the purpose of the outing was to talk about Waymo's commitment to accessibility in developing self-driving taxis already in service in Phoenix. Waymo works closely with the Foundation for the Blind Children (FBC) in Phoenix for feedback on the experience and also consults with the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco. We are pleased to announce that Waymo's work on accessibility is featured at Sight Tech GlobalThis is a virtual event (December 2-3) that will look at how AI-related technologies will affect assistive technology and accessibility in the years to come. Participation is free and Registration is open.
The Waymo Accessibility Session will be attended by three key figures who lead Waymo's work. Clement Wright is the Waymo Product Manager in charge of Waymos User experience and accessibility efforts. His focus is on ensuring that all Waymo drivers, including those with disabilities, can enjoy safe, comfortable and convenient journeys on Waymo's fully driverless service. Marc Ashton is CEO of the Foundation for Blind Children, a Phoenix-based and nationally recognized leader in the education of blind children. Ashton's son is blind, which led to his interest in the field and, in 2007, to the role of CEO. Bryan Bashin is the CEO of Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco, which provides education, training, advocacy and community for blind Individuals in California and around the world. Blind since college Bashin has devoted much of his career to advocating equality, access, education and care for the blind or visually impaired.
Waymo's finding an easily accessible, self-driving ride is no easy challenge. "Nowadays, hail and taxi drivers perform certain tasks outside of the rigors of driving, ”says Wright. “When you pick up you can roll down the window to speak to a driver and help them find the car. One of our biggest challenges in developing the Waymo driver is making sure we understand all of the driver's additional needs without a human driver in the car. "
The Waymo team has worked with adult members of the FBC For example, to get feedback on the mobile app used to summon a Waymo taxi, use the route finding mechanism to honk the cab's horn through the app. "Time and again, "says Wright," we've seen that having a feature that helps a specific group of people, such as the visually impaired, is very helpful for the rest of our driver base as well. This has led us to a broader focus on inclusive design – looking at the needs of specific drivers to understand key challenges and then developing solutions that will help everyone. "
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to help people with disabilities, including 1.3 million legally blind Americans, get where they need to get safely and efficiently. We'll investigate how Waymo considers accessibility throughout the product development cycle and examines the critical role that feedback from both blind and visually impaired users and partner organizations representing these groups plays in this process. Visit us at Sight Tech Global on December 2nd and 3rd to attend the session. Get your free ticket now.
Sight Tech Global welcomes sponsors. Current sponsors are Verizon Media, Google, Waymo, Mojo Vision and Wells Fargo. The event is organized by volunteers and all proceeds from the event will go to the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Silicon Valley.