Everyone knows someone with a disability, especially a driving disability that makes it unsafe to get behind the wheel. It may be an elderly parent, a friend with special needs, or a family member that has experienced a serious injury.

For years, the automotive industry has promised that connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as new mobility services, can provide more efficient transportation to those without a disability. But in the wake of the increasing adoption of these technologies, the industry also an obligation: To make transport more accessible and realize more independence and chances for the disabled with better access to basic services like healthcare and better access to employment.

The disabled market also is substantial. In the United States, for example, around 53 million adults have a disability, which is around 22 percent of the adult population. About 13 percent of adults have mobility problems and 4.6 percent have vision impairments.

In Germany alone, 7.8 million people live with a severe disability – many of them unable to drive a car. At the same time, 7.5 billion Euros have been spent on patient transport services – more than ever. Safe and secure autonomous vehicles in the form of configurable pods are a chance to enable those 7.8 million people better access to mobility and at the same time reduce the costs for patient transport.

However, there still remains one problem: The new autonomous technology needs to be safeguarded by a secure back-up plan in case the technology fails. Normally, this security back-up would be the driver, who can intervene and take over controls. But people with disability might not be capable of maneuvering the vehicle themselves.

Self-Healing, In-Vehicle Software Management capabilities of connected and autonomous cars that enable the vehicle to self-correct when a system malfunctions are crucial for all passengers – both those with disabilities and those without. Only if the vehicle is able to automatically detect problems and “heal” them, can everyone benefit from the new world of mobility. This is still a few years off however it is our obligation to build systems that are inclusive, and only then will consumers gain the level of trust for this changing world of transportation to become a reality.