Lyft announced it will partner with autonomous vehicle (AV) company Aptiv and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to provide self-driven rides to blind and low-vision passengers as part of its Las Vegas pilot program.
The partnership will include creating Braille guides for blind people who ride in Lyft AVs, with a Braille route map and a diagram of an Aptiv AV. There will also be sensors and other technology in the car to inform riders about their surroundings as they travel.
Lyft said the partnership is part of an overall goal of providing transportation and “better mobility solutions” to everyone, especially those most in need of help getting around.
This is not Lyft’s first venture into the arena of providing disabled-access rides. In 2016, Lyft partnered with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s paratransit service to offer on-demand rides to people with mobility challenges, allowing users to order rides in real-time instead of booking a day in advance. That model has been replicated in several cities across the country, including Tallahassee, FL and Columbus, Ohio.
Lyft said it has already given over 50,000 AV rides in Las Vegas since the pilot program’s inception in just over a year. The company’s newest offering should help make the product more accessible and foster greater conversation around blind passengers’ rights, inclusive public policy and expanding transportation options.
As AVs become more commonplace, both in Las Vegas and other cities, these initiatives will be key to ensure that certain members of the community are not left behind. Organizations like the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) have been strong advocates to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are not left out of the conversation, and Lyft’s latest partnership shows that cities and technology companies are taking note.