Waymo

Experience Design, Interaction Design
Role:
Experience Design
Market Research
User Research
Interaction Design

Team:
Zach Vono, XD
Collin Oshea, AD
Mitchel Moss, AD

Tools:
Cinema 4D
Adobe CC

Waymo began as Google's self-driving car project in 2009. Their goal is to make it safe and easy for you to get around but have they considered everyone on the road?

Background
When pedestrians encounter vehicles, they expect a signal from the driver to know whether they should walk or wait. If the driver sees them and wants to let them walk, they let them know by smiling, making eye contact or giving a wave.

When drivers are removed from the vehicle, it's the vehicle's responsibility to communicate with pedestrians.

Role

Experience Design

Interaction Design

Tools

Sketch

Team

Zach Vono
Collin Oshea
Mitchel Moss

Strategy

Sketch

Caitlin Russell

Background

When pedestrians encounter vehicles, they expect a signal from the driver to know whether they should walk or wait. If the driver sees them and wants to let them walk, they let them know by smiling, making eye contact or giving a wave.

When drivers are removed from the vehicle, it's the vehicle's responsibility to communicate with pedestrians.

Solution

The Waymo ICS lets pedestrians know when they are seen and when it's safe to cross the road. It uses familiar symbols to avoid language barriers.

Process

Understand

Market Research

Ethnography

Surveys

Tech Audit

Explore
Ideate
Prototype
Materialize
Testing
Mockups


Waymo vehicles need to share their intent so pedestrians feel recognized and understood.

Headspace on Chakra Meditation

Waymo vehicles need to communicate with pedestrians so they feel recognized chakras can result in uncomfortable physical and mental symptoms, but chakra meditation can help to bring all of them back into balance.

Waymo vehicle stopped at unmarked cross walk with pedestrians.

Right now, there are hundreds of Waymo vehicles driving around the country without a means to communicate with pedestrians. It is a risk for both pedestrian safety and the perception of their brand.

Waymo ICS  

Intent Communication System

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The Waymo ICS lets pedestrians know when they are seen and when it's safe to cross the road. It uses familiar symbols to avoid language barriers.

Waymo ICS

The Waymo ICS lets pedestrians know when they are seen and when it's safe to cross the road. It uses familiar symbols to avoid language barriers.

Product Demo Video

How it works

How it works
The ICS only activates when a pedestrian intends to cross the road or a biker is on either side of the vehicle. It adds transparency to how Waymo's vehicles think and behave, making them more predictable so pedestrians know what to expect.

Features

1) 'Walk' and 'Do Not Walk' Symbols for Pedestrians
2) Light Bars for Bikers
3) Two-way Communication

Ideation

Vehicles with Headgear

The laser sensors on the exterior of the vehicle are called LIDAR. It stands for Light Detection and Ranging. This technology makes Waymo vehicles stand out like someone with headgear. While the LIDAR is an essential component for self-driving cars, it is an indicator for pedestrians that the vehicle functions differently.

Waymo Vehicle: Current State

A Familiar Approach

Autonomous vehicles are unconventional. They need to build trust through incremental change. Communicating with familiar symbols will eliminate ambiguity and prevent deadlock at crosswalks and intersections.

'Walk' and 'Do Not Walk' Symbols

Constraints

A new communication system should be easily implementable but cannot block the sensors that are on the vehicle's exterior. With their vehicles already on public roads, Waymo needs a system that doesn't hinder the progress they've made. Going back to the vehicle manufacturer is too high of a cost.

Retrofitting the LIDAR

Mounting the intent communication system (ICS) towards the top of the vehicle increases visibility when there are adjacent vehicles. It is mounted at the base of the LIDAR to avoid blocking any sensors and ensure that it is legible from either side of the street.

ICS mounted on Waymo's LIDAR Technology.

Prototyping & Testing

Prototype

Animations

Testing Method

Survey

Research Goal

Determine the the most effective way to communicate at an intersection.

Hypothesis

If the ICS uses a combination of symbols and colors, then pedestrians will know when it is safe to cross the road.

Approach

We prototyped two versions of the ICS in After Effects and tested them in a survey. survey by animating an existing image of a Waymo vehicle at an intersection. The first set used only color while the second set used color and symbols.

What we learned

Self-driving cars should communicate with pedestrians by using a combination of symbols and established traffic colors.

Pedestrian's expectations are needs.

Waymo can earn trust on the road by communicating in a familiar language. By prioritizing the pedestrian's understanding, Waymo will earn the trust of the public.

Setting the Stage for a Driverless Future

Waymo's success relies on expanding their self-driving service to new states. Reducing uncertainty in the public eye will help state officials see the value in bringing Waymo's vehicles to their city rather than the risk they pose.

When pedestrians encounter vehicles, they expect a signal from the driver to figure out their next move. They see two tons of machine and want to know whether they should walk or wait. If the driver sees them and wants to let them walk, they let them know by smiling, making eye contact or giving a wave.

When drivers are removed from the vehicle, it's the vehicle's responsibility to communicate with pedestrians.

These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted.

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In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted.