"It's really convenient. I feel our transportation is more valued and barrier-free."
The Story of Mr.Yao
Back in May 2021, Mr.Yao, a blind tuner, was elated to hear the news that the first Robotaxi service was open to the public in Shenzhen and reached out to us for a test ride. Daily transportation is a necessity as he needs to go to different clients' places to adjust the pianos. However, his ride was rarely smooth or satisfying. He shared the frustrations of his peers and his own: difficulty in locating the car, some drivers may drop them off only halfway, rejected by the driver because of the guide dog etc, all discouraged them to go out any more. He genuinely hoped autonomous driving could be popularized so all the visually-challenged could enjoy more freedom of transportation.
On the day of his test ride, he listened attentively to the intricate technologies behind the autonomous driving vehicles, and shared his daily inconveniences and needs as well. We listened and promised him we would keep updating the interface and make it more accessible for people of special need.
Deliver on Our Promise
This April, after we launched the latest Robotaxi fleet with Driver 2.0 which integrates solid-state LiDAR, we quickly installed the new Robotaxi with our accessibility functions, including accessibility compatibility of our ride-hailing MiniProgram, voice assistance on the exterior of the vehicle, and help button in the cabin. We immediately invited Mr.Yao to experience our Robotaxi again to hear his feedback.
"It's a dream come true."
With the help of his iPhone audio guidance, he can adeptly use our MiniProgram and call a Robotaxi to Civic Center. When the vehicle arrived, the speaker on the vehicle reminded him that "You robotaxi has arrived. You may now board." With voice assistance, he can locate the car easily and efficiently.
Once onboard, he spoke out the last 4 digits of his phone number for verification and off they took. Introduced with the new-added help button and interface, he was moved into tears and expressed his gratitude for the user-friendliness of the whole experience.
Accessibility Made Possible by Autonomous Driving
In China, there are approximately 17 million who are blind or have low vision, and often times daily life radius is limited to their own residential quarters. We believe autonomous vehicles can greatly push forward their comfort area to a broader space, and bring a wider array of lifestyles to them.