Driverless cars are the epitome of our collected vision for the future (30 years ago). Right up there with jetpacks.
Technology is catching up with our vision and we're starting to see driverless cars as a real possibility. Google estimates they'll have one on the road between 2017 and 2020.
In case you're not up-to-date on the ins and outs of the driverless car industry, The Telegraph put together a great video about how driverless cars work.
Like the masses, I am enamored with the idea of a productive commute to work or the option to watch a movie on my drive to a nearby city.
The Telegraph also has a great video of one of their reporters in the driver's seat of a driverless car.
It's interesting to hear the reporter talk about his experience. He is surprised how easy it was for him to relinquish control to the car and also surprised by how much effort it took to drive once he started driving again–he had to pay attention. While the car is driving, he talks about the freedom he has to text and use his phone.
I see this is a failure.
Because we don't have faith in the technology, we are designing these cars so a human can easily take over the wheel and manually drive if needed. It's likely the first version released will follow that exact model.
This is problematic for a few reasons:
- I think we are underestimating the mind-shift that will need to happen when we go from the car driving to a manual drive. Switching back and forth between driving and passively riding would be a hard transition. Think about all the times you've made mistakes in your life when you've gone on auto-pilot and forgotten to pay attention to what you're doing. If you're volleying back and forth between a human-operated and car-operated environment, without a significant change in your position, you may forget you're driving and begin to make mistakes. In fact, Google has reported two accidents with their self-driving cars, both times the accident was due to an error by a human.
- The inside of the car could be a lot cooler if it is not designed to mimic the current interior of a car. Imagine all of the passengers could face each other. Or you could ride an exercise bike or an ellipitical machine while riding (the irony of that statement is not lost on me). Or you could take a nap while the car is driving. Or you could just take a few moments to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride, immersing yourself in your environment instead of facing straight ahead.
- Whatever we go to market with initially is likely to be the model all others will mimic. If we rush to market when the technology isn't quite ready we'll find ourselves at the mercy of incremental innovation and it will take years for us to realize the full-benefits driverless cars could provide us. In the meantime the companies responsible for the innovation will make loads of money off of us and we throw away and upgrade with each shiny, new version, perpetuating a wasteful consumer marketplace.
- At some point a driverless car will be involved in an accident and the driverless car will be to blame. It is inevitable. It will scare us. We'll have lawyers and consumers fighting against and demonizing the technology. It will create an opportunity for politicians to grandstand and everyone will have an opinion on how the technology should work–whether or not they have any knowledge of how things work will be irrelevant.
So how do we get around this?
Design for the fringe
Instead of designing the car for rich people who want to check their email on their commute to work, we should design the car for the people who haven't benefited, thus far, from our car culture.
The perfect "driver" for a driverless car is someone who can't drive.
Imagine the innovation we could get to if we design the driverless car for someone who is blind. Or someone who is deaf. Or someone who has no arms or legs.
Instead of incremental innovation we might find radically innovative solutions. Sure, it *might* take more time to get to market -- but when we get to market we'll have better faith in the underlying technology.
So the driverless car doesn't go the way of Google glass, it's worth considering.
Discussing Designing for the Fringe on the 3D LILA Podcast.
Designing for the Fringe: Making dysphagia-safe carrots at home.
The presentation and my notes from my portion of the presentation at South by Southwest (SXSW). My perspective was mostly focused on the utilitarian purpose fo 3D printed food -- particularly for those with Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia).
Dysphagia is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing. Dysphagia brings a major life change. Advancements in the word of 3D printing open the door for more people to enjoy nutritious, fresh food.
A few notes about my submission to the Panel Picker for the 2016 SXSW Interactive festival.
A tiny home could make it easier for my mom to age near us (or for us to live near her).
The US transportation system falls short for the elderly. Understanding why can make it better.
The NEA focuses an entire issue on the arts and accessibility to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. *Swoon*
Stephanie Thomas is cur8able, curating clothing and lifestyle products that are accessible /smart/ stylish for people with disabilities.
A video game, Forget-Me-Knot, helps people understand what it is like to have Alzheimer's.
Headphones help those who are blind use the ATM. Watch and learn.
BrainDance is a collaborative project bringing together dance choreographers, neuroscientists, physicians, philosophers and people with Parkinson's disease to explore movement.
Despite multiple setbacks, Frida Kahlo did not live in the world of the disenfranchised. She lived as a goddess whose entire being is a work of art.
The dying process is messy. It’s hard on everyone. It’s confusing. It’s painful. It’s the beginning of your grief. Talking about it early will help the survivors cope.
Surfing the web, and this website, with a screen reader.
How the blind watch movies, TV and play video games.
Emily McDowell made empathy cards to say all the things that are difficult to say.
As your parents and loved ones grow older you start to notice subtle differences in the way they live their lives. These modifications generally come after something has happened.
Crisis Mappers Network, a large, active, international community of experts, practitioners, policymakers, technologists, researchers, journalists, scholars, hackers and skilled volunteers who are using technology, crowd-sourcing and crisis mapping to answer our humanitarian needs.
Through telepresence and a Segway-like robot, Beam helps those with disabilities see the world.
Can using 3D printing solve animal protection issues?
A wearable device that allows you to send messages with simple gestures.
The get-to-know-you card game for people you've known your whole life.
Personal experience helped a Boy Scout create a wearable to prevent Alzheimer's patients from wandering.
A 12-year-old makes a braille printer with Legos. In other unrelated news, I waste a lot of time watching TV.
Peter and Peregrine are advocating for children and engineers to work together to create solutions.
Neil Brandvold speaking on conflict journalism and what it's like to be a witness to culture changing moments.
I conducted a Workshop on Designing for the Fringe. Here are the ideas we brainstormed at this amazing conference.
Did you know it is super hard to get yourself weighed if you're in a wheelchair? I didn't either.
Inclusive playgrounds aren't a given in our society, but they're important.