The Promise and Problems of Self-Driving Cars for the Disabled Community

Self-driving cars—cars that drive without a human operator—are supposed to change that. For people with disabilities, autonomous vehicles (AVs) have long been a promise of greater freedom and opportunities. With no human driver, there’s no one to deny service based on prejudice. Self-driving cars could allow the disabled community greater access to employment, services, and simply leaving the house.

As of 2023, about half of the requests placed by wheelchair users to rideshare apps go unanswered…

With approximately 57 million disabled people in the United States, carmakers stand to profit from the disability community should they prioritize disability considerations in their self-driving cars. AVs could also help open job opportunities for people with disabilities, a group that faces an unemployment rate twice that of people who are non-disabled. A study from the Ruderman Family Foundation found that disabled people could gain two million employment opportunities with the transportation provided by AVs.