Paving the way for a future where mobility is for all

By Staff
6 Min Read

Matthew Walker, managing director at Mobility in Motion, believes upcoming regulations that will change how vehicles are made are set to cause huge disruption to motorists with a disability.

The coming months are critical for the mobility industry, and there’s a need for urgent attention to address potential challenges that may impact 1.3 billion disabled individuals worldwide.

Currently, the mobility landscape is complex, with various regulations shaping the future of mobility solutions. The upcoming UNECE Cyber Security and Software Updating regulations, set to be mandatory in July 2024, are part of a broader shift toward autonomous vehicles and electric cars.

But that intersection of technology, regulation, and human needs is creating a delicate balance that needs addressing quickly.

Global Regulations

Upcoming cybersecurity regulations will mark a significant shift in the automotive industry’s approach to vehicle safety. The new UNECE Cyber Security (UN R 155) and UNECE Software Updating (UN R 156) regulations are designed to mitigate the risks of cyber-attacks and unauthorised access to vehicles.

Any disability adaptation requiring an electronic interface to the car must be Cybersecure from July 2024. To be cybersecure, the adaptations business must gain a Cyber Security Management System (CSMS) certificate of compliance.

This in turn requires the adaptation business to meet a further raft of regulations and specific infrastructure which is economically unviable for most of the adaptation industry and could not justify the investment. 

If the adaptations company did obtain a CSMS it must then liaise with every vehicle OEM manufacturer to meet their requirements to gain access to encryption detail which allows communication with the car electronics. 

The requirements are so economically, regulatory, and technically arduous that many adaptation businesses might simply not bother, and the disabled will no longer have access to the adaptations which enable them to drive.

These may include electronic devices essential to the wheelchair user such as electronic accelerators and remote-control keypads that operate lights/indicators and other vehicle functions.

Currently, various bodies are shaping the landscape of mobility solutions and these regulations are part of a larger shift toward autonomous and sophisticated vehicles, especially with the inclusion of electric vehicles. The delicate balance between technology, regulations, and human needs requires urgent attention.

Ethical responsibility

A central challenge is the lack of information exchange between car manufacturers – or OEMs- and adaptation manufacturers. 

The adaptation industry often only discovers new technology or barriers for adaptation integration when receiving a vehicle, leading to reactive measures needing to be taken.

The move to electric and hybrid vehicles further complicates matters, requiring access to technical data from OEMs. The lack of communication causes delays, unnecessary costs, and potential discrimination against disabled drivers.

There are many vehicle adaptations that could be affected. Two driving adaptation examples to highlight include the push/pull hand controls and electronic accelerators – safety upgrades that are designed for individuals unable to use traditional pedals.

However, lane-keeping assistance and driver drowsiness awareness systems, while improving vehicle safety for fully able-bodied drivers, may require turning off for a disabled driver thus denying them the safety benefit.

Efforts to navigate challenges are underway through industry representation in Brussels, primarily through the European Mobility Group (EMG) and the Association of Vehicle Adaptation Manufacturers (AVAM).

However, the complexity of the matter and the number of bodies involved dilute the industry’s voice, hindering mobility and freedom for those who need it most.

Working Together

Working together with different groups in the industry is important to make guidelines for designing electric cars that anyone can use easily.

The Motability Scheme, supported by the UK Government, has been saying this for a long time. They help disabled people lease new cars at a good price. It’s crucial that car designers listen to everyone’s needs, especially disabled people’s when making electric cars. They want advice and designs that make it easier for disabled people to get and use electric cars.

Collaboration, understanding, and a shared commitment to ethical responsibility can pave the way for a future where mobility is truly inclusive and accessible. The time for proactive engagement is now, and together, we can navigate these challenges and ensure nobody is left behind.

You can read the full analysis of the upcoming UNECE Cyber Security (UN R 155) and UNECE Software Updating (UN R 156) regulations here.

Matthew Walker is managing director at Mobility in Motion.

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