Industrial - Bachelors

Universal Accessible Seating

This project builds upon an existing QUT and TMR Fully Autonomous Vehicle Concept to propose an accessible seating concept. The design solution aims to enhance the efficiency, comfort and accessibility of seating for people with disabilities including users with vision, hearing, intellectual and mobility impairments as well as older persons. By designing for these extreme needs, a universally accessible seating concept has been developed.

DESign summary

The accessible seating concept addresses the need for truly accessible seating for Fully Autonomous Vehicles (FAVs). The seat aims to facilitate the needs of users of all body types and sizes, including those who do not use the seat. The accessible seat concept enhances the comfort, efficiency, and accessibility for People with disabilities (PWDs). By designing for the most extreme use cases, these adaptations made will benefit all individuals, not just PWDs, but wider society.

research summary

Cooper began by conducting an in-depth literature review of the challenges people with disabilities (PWDs) encounter in daily life, Fully autonomous Vehicle (FAVs) market trends, existing seating systems, and design principles for different disabilities. Additionally, to inform a strategic direction for the project, a comprehensive primary research phase was conducted, encompassing online surveys and insightful focus group discussions with industry experts. Two methods were conducted in tandem with secondary research to triangulate data and identify common themes required on accessible seating design.

The primary research yielded the following design principles.

• Universal Accessibility: Prioritise universal design principles that ensure accessibility for all passengers, regardless of their disability.
• Clear Identification: Implement clear and consistent identification of various aspects within the vehicle to aid navigation and usability.
• User Friendly Interfaces: Create intuitive, simple, and customizable interfaces to accommodate diverse user preferences and needs.
• Modularity and Configurability: Design features to be modular and adaptable to cater to different user requirements.
• Safety and Assistance: Incorporate provisions for user assistance and safety, including easily accessible storage for essential items.
• Sensory Considerations: Address sensory factors such as visual contrast, tactile feedback, and noise reduction to enhance the overall user experience.

Additionally, disability specific guidelines were also established.

identified opportunities

Developed from the design principles, the initial concepts directly address the following identified opportunities.
• Wayfinding within the vehicle is an area of opportunity to enhance the user experience, how might a seat facilitate this?
• Wheelchair users often travel with a transfer board, how might a seat facilitate easy and comfortable transition from another surface?
• Survey results directly identified that often wheelchair users do not transfer to a seat. Can the seat fold to maximise interior space?
• Users often struggle with physical strength requirements when entering or leaving a seat. Can the seat assist users during this transitional period?
• Overstimulation is a key issue for users with cognitive impairments, how much the seat comfort and calm a user when required?

initial concepts

proposed concept

features and benefits

The proposed concept is based on fundamental design principles focused on complete configurability, universal accessibility, minimal physical exertion, and enhanced leg support, all derived from primary research. The seat is mounted on a pair of vertical sliders for height adjustment. Electric linear actuators facilitate other adjustments, including base angle, back rest angle, footrest angle, headrest angle, bolsters, and lumbar elements, ensuring users can attain desired support without relying on physical strength. These adaptable movements cater to diverse body types and needs, including wheelchair users who do not transfer. Additionally, the seat functions as a push-up style seat to aid users with reduced physical strength. It also incorporates colour-changing and functional textiles to improve user comfort and wayfinding. In summary, this innovative seating concept, derived from comprehensive research-based design principles, offers a highly adaptable and universally accessible solution, integrating various automated adjustments to cater to diverse user needs.

Design for Manufacture


The proposed seating concept for a Fully Autonomous Vehicle (FAVs) is a comprehensive response to the imperative need for enhanced accessibility in seating. Informed by in-depth primary and secondary research, this design prioritises universal accessibility, modular configurability, and automated adjustments to accommodate diverse user requirements. The seats adaptable features allow it to support people of all body types and move to maximise internal vehicle space. Additional features users will love include colour changing textiles to assist in wayfinding, push up capabilities for users of reduced strength and the ability to lower to assist user who have fallen. Cooper truly believes this seat is beneficial for people with and without disabilities, and will enhance comfort, efficiency, and accessibility for everyone.

Cooper Benz

Cooper Benz is an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design student at QUT. Cooper is passionate about helping people and is highly ethical in his approach to his work.  To this extent, he is passionate about designing with people for people, to ensure the most seamless, ergonomic and uplifting product for the client.