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New research grant awarded to Transport Research Foundation

Thursday, 19 October 2023

We have awarded a research grant to Transport Research Foundation (TRF), who lead Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). This is part of our dedicated grants to charities and organisations.

TRF has partnered with the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) to ensure direct engagement and co-developed solutions with disabled people.

Research project

The research project is focussed on understanding how to optimise automated mobility solutions which benefit disabled people. The areas which are being investigated include:

  • Disabled peoples’ perceptions of new forms of mobility,
  • The challenges faced by disabled people in interacting with new automated transport technologies,
  • The potential benefits of new automated transport technologies,
  • To what extent inclusivity and accessibility are currently being considered in the design and development of new vehicles, interfaces, and services,
  • Understanding how to ensure that the needs of disabled people are considered in the design and development process going forward.

The research will present examples of good practice and identify the requirements necessary to deliver the benefits of automation to all disabled people.

“We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this exciting research”

Lisa Jones, our Director of Charitable Operations, said: “We are really pleased to award this grant to TRF, in partnership with RiDC, to bring the voice of disabled people into the thinking on automated transport and ensure truly accessible solutions to the future of transport.

"Through this grant and the work the of experienced organisations, TRF and RiDC, we can better understand the ways transport accessibility needs to change. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this exciting research.”

“Accessibility has to be considered from the outset”

Dr George Beard, Head of New Mobility at TRL, has said: “An array of innovations are emerging which are set to reinvent how we transport people and goods, such as driverless or remotely operated passenger shuttles, fully and partially automated cars, buses and trucks – covering an array of use cases, technological maturities, benefits and challenges.

“One of the key potential benefits of automation – alongside safer, cleaner journeys – is to enable people who might previously have been excluded to travel or access goods or services in new ways.

“To best achieve that, accessibility has to be considered from the outset and that is what we’re aiming to achieve with this work”.

“Creating a final product and service that is useful and works for everyone in our population”

Gordon McCullough, CEO at RiDC said: “It is true that disabled people are usually left behind when new innovations are developed, and we have seen this happen time and again with transport.

“We know that accessible, reliable, and economic transport options for disabled people are very much lacking, although work is now being done to improve this.

“That disabled people are being consulted at the beginning of this design process for automated transport is hugely encouraging.

“Our panel have already raised anxieties over automated transport - so involving and listening to them, their needs and experiences from the outset is essential in creating a final product and service that is useful and works for everyone in our population.”

Learn more

TRL and RiDC will make use of their connections with existing automated vehicle trials that are running across the UK during the same period, so disabled groups will be able to give feedback on the accessibility of vehicles and services currently being developed.

In addition, TRL hope to be able to invite disabled people to participate in other innovation trials happening at its London testbed – the Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) – where commercial companies are testing automation and smart city solutions.

For more information on the TRF, please visit.

To learn more about our grants to charities and organisations.

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Find out more

Grants to individuals and organisations

We have grants available to individuals as well as organisations and charities to help disabled people make more journeys.

Charitable Grants

Innovation and research

Our innovation team has commissioned research to better understand the barriers faced by disabled people in accessing transport.

Impact and Innovation

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

If you have any questions about our grant programmes you can learn more by visiting and reading our FAQs.