New Guidance Suggests Making Autonomous Vehicles Pandemic Proof

Zenzic (formerly Meridian), a company created by the UK government and automotive industry to focus on key areas in the global connected and self-driving sector, teamed up with Aurrigo, an autonomous company, to develop an industry-wide set of guidelines in self-driving vehicles. According to both companies, the new guidance reveals a path to “pandemic-proof” self-driving vehicles.

“To deliver accessible transport for all, services and vehicles will have to cater for the needs of vulnerable users. Managing airborne virus transmission, crucial to maintaining public health, must continue to be a key consideration in the design and manufacture of shared-use self-driving vehicles,” a portion of Zenzic’s press release reads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the risks vulnerable people face in public transport, decision-makers in the field of Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) now have an opportunity to understand their needs and build solutions into the design of vehicles which are safer and services which are more inclusive,” said Daniel Ruiz, Zenzic CEO.

Zenzic recently published its UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 guidance, which outlines several methods that future autonomous vehicles can ensure driver and passenger safety from future pandemics. The guidance suggests that the following be incorporated in future autonomous and self-driving vehicle designs:

  • Plexiglass safety screens should be installed where it is safe to do so, to reduce the transmission of air between different zones of the vehicle;
  • Hand-sanitizer dispensers should be installed near vehicle doors for passengers to disinfect their hands before entering and while exiting the vehicle;
  • Contactless payment and automatic door-opening to reduce the number of contact points during each customer’s journey; and
  • Vehicles should be able to facilitate airborne means of cleansing, i.e. using ozone to sanitize shared space while the vehicle is empty.

“One of the key benefits of self-driving vehicles has always been that we are starting from a blank sheet of paper,” said Miles Garner, Aurrigo sales and marketing director. “But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us, and the industry at large, to reconsider what we take into consideration during designing. It is clear that self-driving vehicles offer a safer way to keep people and goods moving in situations where person-to-person contact needs to be minimized.”

To view the full guidance, click here.

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1 Response to New Guidance Suggests Making Autonomous Vehicles Pandemic Proof

  1. Reading this article, and seeing some recent “Barriers” use to partition off cars, primarily Uber/Lyft cars have me questioning installing these in vehicles where side curtain airbags are present. I wonder how this would effect a side curtain airbag deployment, and secondly what kind of debris would this force upon the occupants?

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