Dale Enjoys Driverless Debut

Minda self-advocate Dale Giumelli was recently one of the first Australians with disability to experience first-hand the enhanced mobility benefits on offer with driverless vehicles when he was invited as a special guest to the 2nd International Driverless Vehicle Summit in Adelaide in November.

Dale took the opportunity to travel on several different types of driverless shuttles around Adelaide Oval, as well as being a passenger in a sporty Tesla and state-of-the-art Volvo XC90, where he experienced auto braking and lane change warning technology in action.

The following day he held centre stage at the Summit, where he joined a panel of experts to share their views about the new levels of mobility freedom that could be realised through driverless vehicle technology.

While the ‘gimmick’ benefits of the technology will allow people to catch up on emails, ready the paper and watch TV as they go from A to B, one of the biggest benefits yet to enjoy the limelight is the fact that people with a vision impairment, the ageing, people with disability, or individuals who have medical conditions that prevent them from owning a driver’s licence, will enjoy an exciting era of mobility.

That’s potentially great news for the one in five Australians with disability, and means about 4.3 million people stand to potentially experience a greater level of freedom in the years ahead.

Imagine a life where people can rely far less on carers, family and public transport to get around. Instead, driverless vehicles would provide travel to work and play, and allow people to explore locations not currently serviced by public transport.

And most Australians understand, with a survey by the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative finding that 82% of people recognise that the greatest benefit from self-driving vehicles is mobility for people with driving impairments or restrictions.

The future probably can’t come soon enough for the many people that will never have the opportunity to operate a vehicle, or have lost their ability to drive over time, and at times feel isolated from family, friends and the community as a result.

But the efforts of self-advocates like Dale will see more and more people better understand the current mobility challenges that exist, and how technology holds the key to a greater level of freedom. Well done Dale!