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Human Centred Design Workshop – Designing rituals for autonomous vehicles

A few weeks ago we were invited to give a three day workshop on Human Centred Design at Jaguar Land Rover. The aim of the workshop was to address automotive design from a human centred design perspective, involving an overview of human factors and how they evolved over the years and an introduction to methods and techniques to capture human needs and desires. the first part of the workshop focused on introducing participants to the principle of human factors  with a focus on automotive design, covering topics such as anthropometry, biomechanics, posture, movement, vision/hearing, cognition and emotion.

For the practical session of the workshop, participants worked in group working on a design brief that focused on how people might relate to cars in the near future and how we can support meaningful relationships with autonomous vehicles.

Design brief:

To design a required interaction with an autonomous vehicle that has the potential of becoming an enjoyable ritual, such as the morning coffee, the weekend walk to the park or reading the newspaper.

We know that when people develop relationships with each other, they rely on interaction rituals, that help them establish common norms and values. But, what will those interaction rituals look like when it comes to autonomous vehicles?

How can we design ritual interactions to help people build rich, meaningful relationships with autonomous cars?

Participants were guided through the human centred design approach and had the opportunity to practice a variety of  hcd tools and techniques from ideation through to prototyping, such as customer journey, contextual inquiry, crazy 8s, Harris profile etc.

Participants identified a set of ‘key moments’ that are critical when it comes to building a ritual with your car, and examples of these included ‘getting to know the car’, ‘everyday commuting’, and ‘when the car makes a mistake/disappoints’.

The ‘first experience’ with an autonomous vehicle was the subject of a lot of discussion and it was clear from the concepts, that participant wanted the first experiences with the car to be ‘natural’, ‘non-intimidating’ and ‘allowing them to  fell like they are in control’. A few groups focused on designing ‘getting-to-know-you’ rituals that showed kindness, loyalty and patience, employing metaphors such as ‘the car as a girlfriend/boyfriend’ and ‘the car as a pet’.

Another theme that came up from the workshop was the concept ;f making the car into ‘an ultimate servant’. In this concept, the car would be expected to anticipate all of the person’s needs and serve them fully, by personalising and adapting itself.

In future workshops we aim to allow more time for the prototyping stage and provide more props and creative means to allow participants to explore various communication and interaction modalities.

Special thanks to all the participants from the HMI team at Land Rover, and the HCDI team at Brunel, and specifically Professor Joseph Giacomin for making it possible to run this workshop.

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