BANGOR — The University of Maine is working on a smartphone application that will assist the visually impaired and older residents in hailing rides.

Maine has one of the oldest populations in the nation and many older residents live in rural areas that aren’t connected to public transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the UMaine smartphone project $300,000 to help solve that problem.

The tool is called Ava, which its developers said stands for Autonomous Vehicle Assistant.

Maine’s U.S. senators, independent Angus King and Republican Susan Collins, say the application will use “innovative human-machine interfaces and technologies such as GPS and computer vision to help make automated vehicles safer and more accessible.”

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