Deliberate Design Studio
Project Lead (Primary)
Sharpie & Post-its
The goal of this project was to imagine how autonomous cars could be used to provide a compelling experience for drivers and non-drivers alike. It was based on the prompt from the Michelin Challenge Design 2014 competition. This project started in the previous semester as my Future Cars project, but given that I was now working with a talented team of designers, we needed to start from the beginning. We created a stakeholder map to understand all of the people and services with which our cars would interact.
From this point we began brainstorming wildly, starting with improv comedy exercises and moving to ideas on Post-it notes. The entire class was invited to contribue their ideas on how we might make the driven and undriven (autonomously driven) experience more engaging and appealing. We collected the ideas, discussed and voted on our favorites, then grouped them under larger concepts.
Gathering similar ideas and combining them on concept sheets helped us flesh out ideas into features. The crazy ideas were just as important as the simple fixes to common problems. Establishing connections between emerging themes helped us identify opportunities that we might tackle in our design. First we took the concepts and made an impact-achieveability matrix to check for any low-hanging fruit. Fortunately we agreed that pursuing only low-hanging fruit meant we might miss more exciting or unusual designs, so we included a few of those as well.
Once we had a list of ideas we began working on refining them into more detailed concepts. It was during this refining stage that our project changed paths. We realized that we wanted to go beyond the prompt from the contest and create a vision for the future of automotive transit and ownership. Making this change allowed us the freedom to explore a completely new avenue of service design. We took our book of ideas and used it as a reference for features to incorporate into our cars, but in a completely different way. Rather than creating one car that tried to do everything, we wanted to make a system of cars that could suit many desires for different people. Our new direction was to create 6 distinct vehicles that would meet the needs of these drivers: 3 for people who enjoy driving, and 3 for those who want to do other things while on the road.
These cars are based on archetypes that already exist, but the autonomous features support the driver and allow them additional options not currently available. The undriven cars offer even more amenities and potential for drivers who want to do more than just control a car. At the core of these designs is a model of non-ownership, where you summon the car best suited to your needs and return it once finished. Heavy reliance on the autonomous abilities of the car does put this a bit beyond current technology, but it is an interesting glance into what the future might hold for motorists and passengers alike.