Building Trust in Self-Driving Cars.

Driving Autonomy

In autonomy we (don’t quite yet) trust.

In recent years, designers around the world have crafted their versions of an autonomous future. We’ve seen stunning renders of reimagined vehicle interiors depicting people lounging in bed on the way to work, private dining experiences while cruising around town, or mobile conference rooms. But when you remove a human driver, many of the interactions we take for granted disappear. Replacing “Can you drop me on that corner instead?” or “Lyft for Sam, right?” with digital alternatives is a real design challenge that needs to be solved first before we can achieve the luxurious futures painted above.

In an effort to take some of those steps, Intel approached TEAGUE to explore how people would realistically interact with autonomous vehicles five to ten years down the road. Their engineers required an in-depth creative perspective in order to understand what sensing and computing capabilities they’d need to build into their future platform. In addition, they’d need a partner that could make this future tangible by building immersive, evolvable physical and digital prototypes. With decades spent pushing the boundaries of the future of travel, TEAGUE was a natural fit to take on this challenge.

Practicality before pleasure.

With most companies focused on fanciful entertainment and productivity environments, TEAGUE set out to tackle foundational experiences. How would users get from A to B in an autonomous vehicle? How would they unlock an approaching rideshare car with no driver? Alter the route or make a stop? What happens if a human driver hits your car? Exploring these questions would allow us to understand what it would be like to use this emerging technology.

Over the next 18 months, we worked side by side with Intel to produce what we call Trust Interactions: Foundational experiences that give users a sense of safety, comfort, confidence, and control.

Building the car of the future, from the inside out.

Harmonizing physical and digital is a speciality of TEAGUE’s, and this project was no exception. In order to gather the data we needed to rapidly refine our proposed interactions, we designed and built a full-scale prototype vehicle in our Seattle studio, complete with internal and external digital interaction experiences.

Subtle differences, serious design challenges.

Creating new alternatives for interactions we’ve always taken for granted, for example confirming the rideshare car arriving is yours, or changing a drop off point at the last moment, required subtle yet complex solutions. Our team designed dozens of these, each with the goal of filling in a driverless gap. “Which airline are you flying?” or “Which corner would you like to be dropped at?”, while once solved conversationally, now required digital-based clarification.

Each user had unique expectations of how they would control and communicate with the vehicles, leading our team to create numerous, redundant ways of interacting. Dictated by personal preference and current situation, the system employed visual, sound, and voice cues to communicate what was happening at any given time.

From faux-tonomous to autonomous.

After months of designing, building, iterating, and gathering data through our prototype, it was time to validate in a true autonomous setting. Traveling to Intel’s campus in Arizona, the team ported the technology from our full-scale stationary prototype into an actual autonomous car. TEAGUE then spent a week documenting the in-vehicle user testing of core ‘trust building’ autonomous experiences we’d designed, which would go on to lay the foundation for Intel’s foray into driverless technologies.

Setting the stage for a driverless future.

TEAGUE’s work on these foundational trust interactions has been instrumental in helping Intel define their autonomous drift platform. Since the project’s completion, Intel has made brave leaps forward in mobility, entering into new strategic partnerships and making company acquisitions to become a major player in the autonomous car industry.

Technology and its role however, are only half the equation. Social adoption and the redefinition of “driving” are just as important to the success of autonomous vehicles. Intel knows this, and has been working in earnest with partners like TEAGUE to determine the best way to resolve consumer apprehension surrounding AV’s.

Together, we’ve set the stage with driverless interaction principles that help do just that, and with TEAGUE’s support, Intel has shared those principles and research findings with the world at events like CES, IxDA, TU Automotive, Seattle Interactive, and beyond.




Technology, Computing, Transportation


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