Autonomous taxi app hopes to help people with restricted mobility

The future of cars is seemingly being spearheaded by electric-powered vehicles and autonomous driving technology. One aspect that is often overlooked by the industry are ways to make vehicles more adaptable for people with restricted mobility.

That could change with Calum Gambrill’s mobile application. The Englishman is a Product and Industrial Design student from Ravensbourne University, London, who developed a solution that could provide disabled people and senior citizens with an affordable self-driving taxi service to get around cities.

The app impressed multinational carmaker Ford, who awarded Gambrill’s  “Embark” concept has with the “Ford Design Award” as part of the “New Designers 2021 Awards”.

Calum Gambrill’s app was awarded the “Ford Design Award”.

The carmaker says the ‘Ford Award’ challenged design students to take a human-centric approach to autonomous vehicle concepts, imagining the user experience in terms of interiors, lighting, accessibility and entertainment.

“The future is a designer’s dream. I’m happy to see young people from different creative industries thinking out of the box. We need to embrace unknown things in order to create new inspirational experiences in the car,” said Amko Leenarts, director of Design, Ford of Europe.

“Embark” is envisioned as an accessible and inclusive taxi service, utilising a dedicated app and a fleet of electric self-driving vehicles. The user hails the vehicle with the app, then enters via a side door ramp.

An app that helps people with restricted mobility to have better vehicle access caught the eye of Ford.

There is onboard Wi-Fi to provide passengers with internet access and to be able to listen to music during the journey. The vehicle would also be connected with other autonomous vehicles to calculate the most efficient routes and find available parking, payment would be per kilometre or through a monthly subscription service.

Gambrill won £1 000 to put towards the development of his design career, plus two months of mentoring from designers at D-Ford.


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