On May 25, Governor Mark Dayton signed Executive Order 18-04 (PDF) creating the Governor’s Advisory Council on Connected and Automated Vehicles.
This Council has many stakeholders representing all of the interested parties in bringing this technology to Minnesota. Governor Dayton had the foresight to include the disability community in this discussion and appointed Joan Willshire, Executive Director of the Minnesota Council on Disability, as an ex officio.
Automated vehicles (self-driving vehicles) will revolutionize our society and people with disabilities may gain the most from this technology.
Independence is an important part of life for just about everyone no matter ability and having access to reliable transportation whether that is a bike, car, bus, or paratransit makes independence a reality for many. The accessibility and availability of transportation is often limited for folks with disabilities. It might be blindness, a wheelchair, or a developmental disability that makes getting around more complicated and when you leave urban areas things get more difficult.
Automobile and tech companies are investing billions of dollars each year in this technology and some aspects already exist in cars on the market today.
It is not a matter of if but when fully automated self-driving vehicles will be available to the public.
This executive order will study, assess, and prepare for the transformation and opportunities associated with the widespread adoption of automated and connected vehicles. People with disabilities must be at the table throughout this process in order to ensure that when these vehicles hit the road there is an affordable fully accessible option.
The Minnesota Council on Disability is working hard to guarantee that the adoption of this technology will not leave behind the group it stands to benefit the most.