Incompatibility between buses and mobility aids revealed by 3D scanning

Published:06 September 2018

Professor Carolyn Unsworth pictured above images from the research using 3D-scanning technology, computer simulations and test rigs to check the compatibility of mobility aids and buses in Victoria.

A new ‘Blue Label’ Standards Australia technical specification is not sufficient to determine if a powered mobility aid will be able to access a bus in Victoria.

That’s according to world-leading research using 3D-scanning technology, computer simulations and test rigs, carried out by CQUniversity.

Thirty-five mobility aids and 21 buses were tested for ‘stuck point’ issues.

CQUni’s Occupational Therapy Professor Carolyn Unsworth says the new technical specification was tested in its draft form over a 12-month period.

“The Disability Standards for Accessible Transport (DSAPT) and new draft technical standard 3695.3:2017 (Blue Label scheme) require buses and powered mobility aids to comply to ensure that mobility aid users can access public buses,” she says.

“However, little is known about the compatibility of the standards.

“We found that the new Standards Australia technical specification will be ineffectual for determining access for people using powered mobility aids on buses.”

Researchers found that four of the 25 powered mobility aids that do achieve a Blue Label cannot access 11 or more buses, while two of the powered mobility aids that failed Blue Label testing could successfully access 12 and 13 buses respectively.

Professor Unsworth says that, despite non-compliance with aspects of the Disability Standards, 3D simulations demonstrated that many powered mobility aids could still successfully access most of the buses.

Specifically, 13 of the buses could accommodate at least 22 of the 35 powered mobility aids.

The compatibility of the 35 powered mobility aids and 21 buses scanned (735 combinations) will be available soon for users, health professionals and bus companies through a dedicated website and mobile app.

“Since the ‘swept path’ area of buses is a major source of incompatibility, bus design in the future should investigate boarding people using powered mobility aids from double doors in the middle of the bus to a large allocated space in front of the entrance,” Professor Unsworth says.

Other CQUni researchers involved in the study were Dr Julian Chua, Associate Professor Anjum Naweed, Dr Prasad Gudimetla and Professor Drew Dawson.