Self-Driving Car UI

UI prototype for the vehicle

Role: UX Designer (Individual Project)
Contributions: UX/UI Design, Wireframes
Tools: Balsamiq (Wireframes), Photoshop (Visual Design), Sketch

Discovery & Research

It’s 2040. Self-driving cars now make up over 50% of the cars on the road. Just joined a start-up company looking to re-design the self-driving car. The designer's task is to research and design UI prototypes for the vehicle.

Approach / Research

User Centered Design Canvas

1. Business


A start-up company looking to re-design the self-driving car.

2. Users


  • Students – unexperienced but wants to get around
  • Business People – looking to be more productive with their time
  • Elderly – Uneasy about driving/technology but needs assist with normal routine

3. Problems


  • In a hurry
  • Conservative Driving Artificial Intelligence
  • Wants to drive
  • Prefer a particular route
  • Data Collection
  • Prefer Traditional Dashboard
  • Prefer Physical Buttons
  • Aggressive Drivers
  • Not Tech Savvy
  • Brand Loyalty
  • Younger Audience lack the understanding of responsibilities on the road
  • Not enough material to be engaged or entertained
  • Budget
  • Communication with other autonomous

4. Motive


  • Curiosity
  • Experience a unique form of commuting
  • Ease and convenience
  • Free up schedule
  • Nap During Commute
  • Increased Productivity

5. Fears


  • Lack of Control/Trust
  • Privacy Concerns
  • Nothing to Do
  • Route change
  • Frequent Route Changes
  • Bullied on the Road
  • Split-Second Decisions
  • Fear of Advanced Tech

6. Solutions


  • Traffic Avoidance Solution
  • Optimized Route Prediction
  • Set/Add Personalized Routes
  • Proactively learns and adapts driving style
  • Expand app library with entertainment, social and games
  • Upfront about Privacy and Data Collection
  • Informed of placement of vehicle at all times
  • Technology company which includes activating Physical Buttons on Touchscreen
  • Ability to switch styling of UI towards Traditional
  • Ability to customize the screen to be minimalistic or set to certain profiles

7. Alternatives


  • Don’t go anywhere
  • Carpool
  • Biking/Public Transportation
  • Experienced Drivers
  • Brand Loyalty

8. Competitive Advantages


  • Support Productivity and Daily Tasks
  • Provide adequate and flexible amount of entertainment and games
  • Upfront about Privacy and Data Collection
  • Could potentially incorporate technology to make UI buttons have physical attributes through third party (common complaint on Tesla Forums)
  • Proactively learns and adapts driving style (non-globally)

9. Unique Value Proposition


A company entering the self-driving car market and seeking to differentiate by integrating mobile productivity and entertainment while commuting.


- Collected survey about current driving experience
- Collected feedback on UI Design
- Youngest participant is 12 Years Old
- Oldest participant is 72 Years Old

Visited Tesla Dealership

- Visited Tesla and studied their design approach
- Gain insight such as access the mileage left on battery is hidden
- Studied how they implemented the climate control

Sketches, Wireframe & Visual Design

- Sketches and wireframe different components
- Created and adjusted comp based on survey

Survey / Testing


- How easily and successfully was the user able to jump in and use the UI?
- Does the starting point make any difference in whether the user are successful in reaching their goal? If so, what are the differences?
- What paths do users take to enter a destination?
- What obstacles do users encounter on the way to complete a specific task?
- How did the users feel about the effort and steps required to complete a specific task?


- Errors of omission
- Gather feedback from users for improvements
- Number of tasks completed with and without assistance


- Appropriateness of UI’s functions to users’ tasks
- Perceived amount of time and number of steps
- Ease of use overall

Data Sample


Features which builds Trust and/or Adds Value to the occupants

Information always available to the Driver

- Speed Rate of Travel
- Placement of vehicle among Traffic Flow
- Blind Spot, Lane Detection and Car Collision Visual Indicators
- Fuel and/or Battery Levels – Condition of Car
- Time/Date

Enhanced Experience

- Ability to know who’s in the car and personalize dashboard and preferences to the driver through keyless fobs/mobile device
- Conversational/Social experience through voice features

Input Directions, Add Destinations

- Keyboard, Voice and Gesture Input Options

Receive Information about their Trip

- Current Weather and Predictive Weather while in commute and at arrival
- Suggestions or reminders when leaving or arrival

Mobile App (Future Exploration)

- Identify passengers to set preferences
- Set workflow on mobile device and have the car sync over-the-air
- Mobile App to be competitive in the market place as higher-end cars it’s more standardized

Parental Control (Future Exploration)

- Accept or Decline New Destinations by Parent
- Disable Manual Control and/or Prevent Speeding (ability to reduce horsepower on performance models)
- Instate Curfew Reminders
- Arrival Notification to Parent
- Access Control Management to Car
- Geo-Location Violation Notifications (Skipping Class, Unknown Destination)
- Pull location from driver’s contact list on phone, if approved by parent

Ideation & Design

Visual Design

The design approach is based on building on user’s previous knowledge and experience, the design incorporates basic operational controls from traditional vehicles such as climate control, access to weather and core functionalities. The visual design is to create a professional polished UI to provide an increase sense of quality, satisfaction and trust into our complex autonomous vehicles. The new platform is designed to increase productivity while on the go.

Digital Prototype - High-fi Wireframes

Dashboard Components

Status Bar

- Outside Temperature
- Driving Mode
- Date/Time
- Speaker, Bluetooth, 4G Signal, etc.
- Battery with Mileage Counter

Map Component (expanded)

- Route, Location Indicator, Pin
- Traffic & Satellite
- Speed (mph)
- Voice/Mic Artificial Intelligence
- Directions, Nearby, Favorites
- Active Task (activity log) with progress bar

Climate Control

- Temperature Controls (Left & Right)
- Auto & Sync
- Fan Speed Control
- Front & Back
- Fan Direction
- A/C

Core Functionality (expanded)

- Home (Main Screen)
- Music
- Phone
- Weather
- Game/Entertainment
- Setting

Future Considerations

Thought Process & Approach Involved

- Thought Process & Approach Involved
- Research
- Idea Bubble Map
- Mind Dump
- Sketches & Wireframes
- Usability Survey & Testing


- Really quick to pick up on the UI
- Understood how navigation works compared to older audiences
- Excited to see a digital platform for driving

Older Audience

- Had difficulty understanding a full UI design, still attached to physical gauges
- Immediately wants to know where the emergency flasher/SOS button
- Comfortable with the design and understand where they are through prior experiences with navigation

Young Professionals

- They have complete or more trust in the system
- Prefer UI to be flexible and hide information
- Open and accepting of the UI design
- More concerned about amount of entertainment than the actual route or current process of the car

Most Difficult Challenge - Heat & Cooling UI

- Markers made the screen too complicated
- Dials didn’t work with the design style
- Designed to have quick glance of temperature
- Drew bubble map to expand on devices that share similar characteristics and studied their approaches (oven, heater, A/C, fireplace, etc.)

Final Notes

- Overall, feedback was very positive
- Accepting of the UI and understood the principles
- Most users didn’t care about the weather
- During the survey, no complaints about the learning curve being steep.
Thank you for reading!