Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the University of Maine has received a total of $300,000 to develop an autonomous vehicle smartphone application designed to assist visually impaired individuals and seniors. This funding was awarded through the Inclusive Design Challenge put on by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
"Maine has the oldest population by median age and is also one of the most rural states in our nation. These two factors make developing and deploying accessible transportation solutions for seniors an increasingly urgent priority,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “We welcome this investment in automated vehicle technologies at the University of Maine, which will help to safely and efficiently connect seniors with essential services.”
This funding will allow the University of Maine team to work on the development of the application they are calling “Ava,” which stands for “Autonomous Vehicle Assistant,” using innovative human-machine interfaces and technologies such as GPS and computer vision to help make automated vehicles safer and more accessible.