Self-Driving: Design challenge


48 Hour Design Challenge


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 prototype for the vehicle in a single weekend.

Tasks Involved:
  • Research
  • Surveys
  • Digital Strategy

Design Challenge

Weekend design challenge to do research and provide a solution.

Research & Approach

User-Centered Design Canvas



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


  • - Students: Unexperienced but wants to get around
  • - Business people: Looking to be more productive with their time
  • - Elderly - Uneasy with driving and technology but needs assist with daily routine


  • - In a hurry
  • - Conservative driving (ML/AI)
  • - Wants to drive but unable to
  • - Prefer a particular route
  • - Data collection
  • - Prefer traditional dashboard
  • - Prefer physical buttons
  • - Other aggressive drivers
  • - Not tech savvy
  • - Brand loyalty
  • - Younger audience lack of experience and understanding of responsibilities on the road
  • - Not enough features/materials to be engaged or entertained
  • - Budget
  • - Communication with other autonomous


  • - Curiosity
  • - Experience a unique form of commuting
  • - Ease and convenience
  • - Free up schedule
  • - Ability to nap during commute
  • - Increase productivity
  • Fears

    • - Lack of control/trust
    • - Privacy concerns
    • - Nothing to do
    • - Route changes based on ML/AI recommendations
    • - Road rage/bullies on the road
    • - Split-second decisions without warning
    • - Fear of advanced technology


    • Solutions

      • - Traffic avoidance solution
      • - Optimized route prediction
      • - Set/add personalized routes
      • - Proactively learn and adapts driving style
      • - Expand app library with entertainment, social and games
      • - Upfront about privacy and data collection practices
      • - Informed of placement of vehicle at all times
      • - Technology company which includes activating physical buttons on touch screens
      • - Ability to switch styling of UX for minor, beginner, advance drivers
      • - Ability to customize screen to be minimalistic or set to certain profile based on occupants
      • Alternatives

        • - Don't go anywhere
        • - Carpool
        • - Biking/Public transportation
        • - Experienced drivers
        • - Brand loyalty to other auto manufactures
      • Competitive advantages

        • - Support productivity and daily tasks
        • - Provide adequate and flexible amount of entertainment and games
        • - Upfront about privacy and data collection policy changes
        • - Proactively learn and adapts driving style based on location (not globally but community behaviors)
      • Unique value prop

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

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 is 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


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



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

Sketches, Wireframe & Visual Design

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

Approach and Prioritization

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 a 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

Digital Prototype - High-fi

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.

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!