Request for Information (RFI) for the Inclusive Design Challenge

Federal Register, Volume 85 Issue 4 (Tuesday, January 7, 2020)
[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 4 (Tuesday, January 7, 2020)]
[Pages 783-785]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office []
[FR Doc No: 2020-00009]
[Docket Number DOT-OST-2019-0187]
Request for Information (RFI) for the Inclusive Design Challenge
AGENCY: Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), Department of
ACTION: Request for information (RFI).
SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the
Secretary of Transportation (OST) is seeking feedback on a proposed
inclusive design challenge (Challenge) via this Request for Information
(RFI). The Challenge is intended to incentivize creation of innovative,
inclusive design solutions to enable access to automated vehicles (AV),
also known as Highly automated Vehicles (HAV), for persons with
disabilities. The Challenge seeks to emphasize the opportunities and
challenges introduced by AVs which human occupants are not expected to
drive, nor supervise the driving functions of the automated system, or
perform any other element of the dynamic driving task as long as the
vehicle remains within its operational design domain.
    The Challenge will solicit solutions addressing obstacles faced by
persons with physical, sensory, and/or cognitive disabilities. The goal
of the Challenge is to inspire inclusive designs as AVs are developed,
which may also increase access to conventional vehicles today.
Solutions proposed should aim to decrease the need to modify Level 4
and 5 AVs post-production, or to reduce the cost of retrofitting AVs
for use by persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users.
DATES:  Responses to the RFI must be received by January 31, 2020, no
later than 5:00 p.m. (ET).
ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted using any one of the
following methods:
     Electronic mail: Email comments to
[email protected]. Responses must be provided as attachments to
an email. It is recommended that attachments with file sizes exceeding
25MB be compressed (i.e., zipped) to ensure message delivery. Responses
must be provided as a Microsoft Word (.docx) attachment to the email,
and be no more than 5 pages in length, with 12-point font and 1-inch
     Internet: To submit comments electronically, go to the
Federal regulations website at Follow the
online instructions for submitting comments.
    Respondents may answer as many or as few questions as they wish.
    DOT will not respond to individual submissions or publish publicly
a compendium of responses. A response to this RFI will not be viewed as
a binding commitment to develop or pursue the project or ideas
    Respondents are requested to provide the following information at
the beginning of their response to this RFI:
 Company/institution name
 Company/institution contact
 Contact's address, phone number, and email address
[email protected]. You may also contact David Carter, Office of
the Under Secretary, OST (202-366-4813). You may send email to Mr.
Carter at [email protected].
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of this RFI is to solicit
feedback from academia, research laboratories, industry, government
agencies, and other stakeholders on the scope and ideal outcomes of the
Challenge. DOT is interested specifically in information on how best to
structure a multi[hyphen]phase prize competition to attract novel
systems that use design solutions to enhance accessibility in AVs.
    DOT is eager to realize the potential mobility benefits that AVs
could bring to persons with disabilities. However, DOT also recognizes
that this is not an easy problem to solve and there is no single
solution. The wide diversity of disabilities and resulting needs for
inclusive vehicle designs increase the complexity of the engineering
challenge. While some mobility services (e.g., transit vehicles and
service, and other for-hire vehicles, such as taxis) currently
incorporate some accessibility features, few such features have been
universally included in passenger vehicles. Existing solutions,
particularly to enable access to and use of vehicles by wheelchair
users, typically are added through aftermarket modifications, which can
be expensive and cumbersome for persons with disabilities, rather than
integrated as original equipment.
    Automated vehicles introduce new design opportunities, particularly
to enable independent use by persons with physical, sensory, and/or
cognitive disabilities. By using the challenge format, DOT seeks to
draw attention to the topic of passenger vehicle accessibility;
encourage new cross-disciplinary collaborations; incentivize the
development of new approaches and technologies to help people move
independently; and tap into the creativity and knowledge of the
disability community, researchers, advocates, manufacturers, and
    DOT aims to attract ideas from around the nation to identify new
solutions for common access issues. The Challenge is expected to be
open to individuals and teams (Designers) from the academic, research,
and business communities, including but not limited to universities,
research institutions, technology companies, and entrepreneurs. As with
other government competitions, the Challenge aims to create a vibrant
community of thinkers and doers who drive revolutionary innovation. As
such, DOT encourages teams to organize themselves in a manner that best
allows them to meet the Challenge. DOT expects teams to describe how
they have engaged with stakeholders to understand the needs and
constraints of both industry and travelers with disabilities when
explaining the feasibility and impact of their design. DOT also
encourages teams to identify representatives from both industry and the
disability advocacy community to serve as advisors and to help inform
[[Page 784]]
direction of their ideas based on their knowledge and expertise.
Challenge Features
    Through the Challenge, DOT seeks innovative ideas and design
solutions to enable persons with disabilities to use AVs independently
and ultimately to create a more accessible transportation future for
all. Designers will compete for cash prizes by developing innovative
design solutions to increase access to, and reduce the cost of building
and/or modifying AVs for use by, persons with physical, sensory, and/or
cognitive disabilities. Successful solutions will demonstrate
consideration of production feasibility.
    DOT expects to consider the following factors in the Challenge in
evaluating design solutions that aim to both propose future vehicle
designs and create components in support of inclusive design features.
     Vehicle Platform: All design solutions should be targeted
toward integration into light duty passenger vehicles. Solutions may
address any vehicle manufacturing stage (aftermarket modification and
     Vehicle Use: For the Challenge, design inclusiveness will
be evaluated in part based on the extent to which proposed solutions
enable each element of vehicle use, as outlined below. Designers will
develop inclusive design solutions to address one or more of the
following tasks that an AV user with a disability will need to complete
    [cir] Locating an AV--Including, but not limited to, being notified
that a vehicle has arrived; identifying the correct vehicle and
locating and navigating to the correct vehicle.
    [cir] Entering an AV--Including, but not limited to, unlocking and
opening vehicle door(s); deploying and stowing ramps or other equipment
enabling access for wheelchair users or persons with other physical
disabilities or mobility equipment; and closing vehicle door(s).
    [cir] Securing Passengers and Mobility Equipment--Including, but
not limited to, securing seatbelts and other passenger restraints;
securing wheelchairs or other mobility equipment to the vehicle; and
securing service animals.
    [cir] Inputting Information--Including, but not limited to,
confirming passenger identity; searching for, entering, and changing a
desired destination; confirming the vehicle's destination; selecting a
specific drop-off point (e.g., a particular entrance to a large complex
or a location with a curb cut or sufficient space to deploy a ramp or
other physical device).
    [cir] Interacting with the vehicle in routine and emergency
situations--Including, but not limited to, operating passenger
convenience and safety features (e.g., entertainment, window controls,
locks, climate control); monitoring the vehicle's location and route
progress; changing the vehicle's destination enroute; requesting
assistance (emergency or non-emergency); understanding and performing
appropriate actions in the event of a breakdown or crash.
    [cir] Exiting an AV--Including, but not limited to, being notified
and confirming that a vehicle has reached its intended destination;
releasing passenger and/or mobility equipment restraints; identifying
and locating the safe and appropriate door(s) from which to exit the
vehicle; recognizing when it is safe to exit a vehicle; opening door(s)
and deploying and stowing ramps or other equipment enabling access for
wheelchair users or persons with other physical disabilities or
mobility equipment.
     Disability Types: For the Challenge, inclusiveness will be
evaluated in part based on the extent to which proposed solutions
address a range of disabilities and needs. Designers will also focus
their efforts by designing solutions for use by one or more of the
following audiences:
[cir] Persons with physical disabilities
[cir] Persons with sensory disabilities
[cir] Persons with cognitive disabilities
General Structure of the Prize
    The Challenge is expected to consist of two stages. Individuals/
teams will compete for an overall prize purse of up to $5,000,000. The
prize purse is part of the $100 million provided in FY 2018 to the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a HAV research and
development program. In Stage I, up to 15 semi-finalists will receive
$100,000 each for developing promising concepts. In Stage II up to four
Stage I Designers will move on to be named finalists and receive a
portion of the remaining prize purse, including a potential grand prize
of $2,000,000.
     Stage I, Ideation: In Stage I, all eligible Designers will
submit proposals for ideas to develop inclusive design solutions for
AVs. Up to 15 semifinalists will be selected to advance to Stage II to
develop a functional prototype of their idea and compete for a cash
prize. If a selectee declines to participate in the next stage, an
alternate may be selected.
     Stage II, Prototype/Demonstration: In Stage II, the semi-
finalists from Stage I will develop their concepts into functional
prototypes (i.e., detailed system designs and prototypes to be
demonstrated) for an inclusive design solution. DOT anticipates that
partway through Stage II one or more design charrettes will be held
subject matter experts from industry and the disability community. At
the end of Stage II, teams will be invited to Washington, DC to
demonstrate their prototypes. After this the final prize selections
will be announced. A travel stipend will be provided to teams for
travel to Washington, DC, for the charrette(s) and demonstration. Up to
four finalists will be selected and awarded a portion of the remaining
prize purse, contingent upon review of the Stage II submissions and
demonstrations against the evaluation criteria.
Disclaimer and Important Notes
    This is solely an RFI and not a Notice of Funding Opportunity or
the opening of a challenge competition. Therefore, DOT is not accepting
applications at this time. DOT may issue a prize in the future based on
or related to the content and responses to this RFI; however, DOT may
also elect not to issue a prize. There is no guarantee that a prize
will be issued as a result of this RFI. Responding to this RFI does not
provide any advantage or disadvantage to potential applicants if DOT
chooses to issue a prize regarding the subject matter. Final details,
including the anticipated award size, quantity, and timing of DOT
funded awards, will be at the discretion of the Secretary of
    Any information obtained as a result of this RFI is intended to be
used by the government on a non-attribution basis for planning and
strategy development; this RFI does not constitute a formal
solicitation for proposals or abstracts. Responses to this notice will
be treated as information only. DOT will review and consider all
responses in its formulation of program strategies for the identified
materials of interest that are the subject of this request. DOT will
not provide reimbursement for costs incurred in responding to this RFI.
Respondents are advised that DOT is under no obligation to acknowledge
receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents
with respect to any information submitted under this RFI. Responses to
this RFI do not bind DOT to any further actions related to this topic.
DOT may use or disclose responses for any lawful purpose.
[[Page 785]]
Proprietary Information
    Because information received in response to this RFI may be used to
structure future programs and/or otherwise be made available to the
public, respondents are strongly advised to NOT include any information
in their responses that might be considered business sensitive,
proprietary, or otherwise confidential. However, respondents may choose
to include such information in their submissions if they believe it
will significantly assist DOT in the design of the Challenge.
    Responses containing confidential, proprietary, or privileged
information must be conspicuously marked as described below. Failure to
comply with these marking requirements may result in the disclosure of
the unmarked information under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C.
    If a response contains trade secrets or confidential commercial or
financial information, the respondent must include a cover sheet
identifying the specific pages containing that information. The cover
sheet must also provide evidence that the respondent actually or
customarily treats the information as private.
    In addition, the respondent must (1) mark the header and footer of
every page that contains trade secrets or confidential commercial or
financial information with ``Contains Confidential Information Exempt
from Public Disclosure'' and (2) identify every line and paragraph
containing such information with double brackets or highlighting.
Evaluation and Administration by Federal and Non-Federal Personnel
    Federal employees are subject to criminal prosecution for the
unauthorized disclosure of appropriately and properly marked
confidential information under 18 U.S.C. 1905. The government may seek
the advice of qualified non-federal personnel and use non-federal
personnel to conduct routine, nondiscretionary administrative
activities. Submissions may be reviewed by support contractors and
private consultants. By submitting your response, the respondent
consent to DOT providing it to non-federal parties. Non-federal parties
will be obliged to maintain the confidentiality of any submissions
prior to being given access to those submissions.
Request for Information
Category 1: Challenge Topic and Design
    1. The Challenge could address elements of independently using a
passenger vehicle, as described above. Are crucial elements missing? If
so, please describe the missing element(s) and discuss how they create
challenges for independent travel.
    2. Is there benefit to including an option for the development of a
full concept design for inclusive vehicles (i.e., in reimagining the
vehicle design)? If so, please explain why and describe what
requirements should be considered as part of this concept proposal.
    3. How can proposals account for uncertainty in the development
path of automated vehicles while still demonstrating novel and
realistic concepts for inclusive design?
    4. Stakeholder engagement is an important aspect of the Inclusive
Design Challenge. In what ways should DOT continue stakeholder
engagement throughout the project to support teams in receiving
valuable feedback on their designs (e.g., expert panels, public
webinars that solicit feedback etc.)?
    5. Are Stage I awards sufficient for enabling the development of a
prototype for Stage II?
    6. Do the proposed Challenge background, purpose, and challenge
features sections above provide sufficient information to inform
proposals? If not, what additional information would be helpful?
Category 2: Evaluation
    1. How can DOT evaluate proposals on the basis of:
    a. Inclusiveness?
    b. Production feasibility?
    c. Expected user experience?
    2. What evaluation criteria are most important when considering how
proposals can best enable access to AVs for persons with disabilities:
a. Description of how the proposed solution contributes to independent
b. Demonstration of a realistic understanding of users and their unique
c. Demonstration of the engineering needs and explaining how the team
arrived at that determination of need
d. Determination of the potential cost and manufacturability
e. Thorough description of the user experience when the technology is
f. Consideration of the human-machine interface needs both inside and
outside of the vehicle
g. Consideration of a range of needs and limitations, including users
in a range of geographic contexts, income brackets, and with and
without access to a smartphone or bank account
h. Other criteria
    3. How would evaluation criteria be different if there were two
types of proposals being considered (such as components and full
1. Dynamic Driving Task and Operational Design Domain are both
defined by SAE International in standard J3016: Taxonomy and
Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-
Road Motor Vehicles (
2. See SAE International standard J3016: Taxonomy and Definitions
for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor
Vehicles for definitions of driving automation levels (
Finch Fulton,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy.
[FR Doc. 2020-00009 Filed 1-6-20; 8:45 am]