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Back in 2022, during the 2022 World Cities Summit in Singapore, the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) shared its vision of the future. Called the “Smart City” concept, this came in three pillars – design, keeping it green, and personal mobility for all. Following its launch of EnableLA in Los Angeles, California, in 2021, HMG has a new program to test out for another kind of consumer. Via a partnership through SG Enable, the focal agency for disability and inclusion in Singapore, and the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), HMG is launching a pilot program to help the visually-impaired get around town.
“We are excited to collaborate with Hyundai Motor Group on this initiative. SG Enable has worked with partners previously to catalyze social innovations at our award-winning Enabling Village, such as having Singapore’s first inclusive preschool and gym, with more of such facilities built across Singapore ever since. We hope this assistive mobility solution will not only improve accessibility of persons with disabilities, but also further drive social innovations in navigation so they can live more independently and better access opportunities to learn, work and play in an inclusive society,” - Mr. Ron Loh, Assistant Chief Executive at SG Enable
The first phase of the pilot program (currently unnamed) will be focused mainly on research. Collecting and analyzing data on the current mobility solutions available and the service requirements for auxiliary applications of visual and possibly other types of impairment is imperative to knowing what is possible and what can be improved. Following this, an application can ultimately be developed to have a vehicle-based service. This will likely be a ride-hailing program, calling back to the Niro Plus robotaxi service launched in 2022. The start of HMG’s involvement with purpose-built vehicles (PBVs) begins with the Kia Niro.
Starting in Enabling Village, the first inclusive community space in Singapore dedicated to integrating persons with disabilities, the pilot program will be developed by HMG, managed by SG Enable. The pilot program will be conducted over a ten-week testing period. Participants with visual impairment will be conducted for this study – over the course of the study, participants will be offered a trial of the software, or navigation solution, to send their feedback and data to improve future mobility solutions. There will also be a more general version of the program open for public use by all persons with disabilities and their caregivers. Via an app that can be downloaded by scanning a QR code found at Enabling Village’s Information and Career Center, this mobility solution is also accessible for testing and sending feedback.
All a part of the Smart City concept to provide personal mobility for all persons, we saw some interesting examples of other PBVs HMG and Kia are working on during the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. One video showcased an air taxi service operated by HMG and Uber. Just last year, Supernal, the joint company formed by HMG and Uber, debuted the first iteration of their persona aircraft concept, called an eVTOL vehicle. Don’t worry, though. Only sold for commercial use, the average Joe can’t get their pilot license and start flying down the highway to beat morning traffic.
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