Ford, other companies around the world, lead work for 'accessible streets' in Detroit

·2 min read

Ford USA and Newlab have laid out plans for the Accessible Streets Studio. It aims to develop technologies to make the City of Detroit easier to navigate for its residents.

Seven companies around the world have been selected as members of the inaugural cohort of the Studio, Ford said.

Newlab is a think tank of experts and innovators who apply technology to solve world challenges.

Launched by Michigan Central and Newlab in 2020, the Accessible Streets Studio comprises of Detroit residents, stakeholders, startups, and experts to co-design mobility solutions. They plan to roll out their plans this year.

The companies plan to tackle four major challenges faced by Detroit residents. The challenges are bridging transportation gaps, improving access to resources, making safe streets, and ensuring access to mobility information.

Ford enumerated the seven inaugural companies in the Studio.

Soofa will build the first of its kind, solar-powered digital signs with e-ink display. Soofa Signs will feature real-time updates on mobility resources, city communication, and wayfinding.

Kiwibot will build autonomous delivery infrastructure for campuses, communities, and cities. With local deliveries powered by robots, Kiwibot is focused on providing an affordable, reliable, and friendly service.

Solartonic will deliver solar power and wireless networks, managed through a remote cloud-based platform called Solahub. The platform integrates lighting, CCTV, signage, and WiFi network systems.

Numina will measure all kinds of street-level activity to support urban planning, policy, and operations that account for everyone, not just cars. Numina will compute anonymous volume counts, paths, and traffic behaviors of travelers and objects in streets.

Lazarillo will be a navigation app for people who are blind and visually impaired to navigate the city using audible assistance.

Kuhmute is the universal charging network for personally owned micro-mobility vehicles, which may consist of scooters.

Sway Mobility will offer a carshare of electric vehicles. The company will provide vehicles, insurance, tech, and charging infrastructure.

“By solving local mobility challenges, we can help connect our communities and build more equitable cities,” said Ford Lead of Michigan Central Development Strategy Julie Roscini.

“The Accessible Streets Studio is laser focused on identifying innovative solutions to help improve urban life for everyone... We look forward to co-creating the future of mobility with the Detroit community and our innovation partners,” Roscini concluded.


Photo from Ford and Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU)

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