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Autonomous Vehicles, New Mobility & the Built Environment

Autonomy for All Ages

Ensuring accessibility to mobility, regardless of ability or age, was a major theme of the 2019 SmartDrivingCars Summit. Reinforcing this idea, Aditya Belwadi, an attendee at the conference, spoke about the importance of designing autonomous vehicles for children. As a Chair for the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM, Belwaldi brings credibility to the discussion.

At the time of the above interview, Belwadi was also a Research Scientist II and Traffic Safety Lead at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Research Institute in their Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP).* CHOP, founded in 1855, is the first U.S. hospital devoted exclusively to the care of children. CIRP’s testing aims to ensure the safety of the smallest and youngest vehicle passengers. Their testing and research cover a wide range of use-cases, including child restraint systems, teen driving safety, and autonomous vehicles.

Regarding autonomous vehicles, compared to traditional vehicles, it is possible to take a much more passenger-centric design approach. For instance, the elimination of driver and associated hardware (e.g. steering wheel, pedals, etc.) allows for freedom in the arrangement of seats.

Belwadi points out that the design of most existing vehicles targets the 50th percentile of humans. Children clearly are at the low-end of that scale. As a result, children are subject to special workarounds in existing vehicles, such as add-on car seats and requirements to sit in the back seat.

The work that CHOP is performing will help designers and manufacturers create driverless vehicles, particularly those that are shared, that incorporate safety features as part of the design; safety that spans ages and ability.


*According to his LinkedIn profile, Belwadi is currently Crash, Safety and Occupant Protection/Biomechanics at Tesla.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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