Designing Automated Systems is All About the Humans

Human-centric design is about looking at what consumers want from smart experiences in terms of how the manufacturers connected emotionally with the things they make, be it cars or other goods and services.

By understanding people’s emotions it’s possible to deliver the experience they want by making them feel relaxed, engaged, in control, safe and productive. Chris Rockwell, CEO and Founder of Lextant adds: “We often think of intelligence as being just AI but there are a number of factors involved in smart mobility. Smart systems deliver on life-level mobility needs beyond the cockpit – adding value by anticipating needs, boosting efficiency, creating new insights, and delivering personalized experiences. Combined with automation and connectedness, these smart experiences collaborate to seamlessly connect life-level needs through new mobility innovations.”

He believes that artificial intelligence (AI) is only as good as what it delivers in true consumer value: “When systems are smart in the minds of consumers, they provide surprise and delight by connecting things in a way consumers couldn’t do before.” By providing customers with want they want, trust is built between the brand and the consumer in a predictable and transparent way. Rockwell says this removes any ambiguities in how AI works and enables a higher level of predictability.

He adds: “Lextant talked at AutoTech: Detroit recently about Apple’s CarPlay and Mercedes Hyperscreen. One of the primary tenants of the interface is using shy tech to display features when the system thinks you need them. It’s creating a more contextually relevant experience, but it’s only more intelligent if it delivers on value… all of this intelligent mobility has to deliver on life-level goals.”

Paradigm shift: from product to services

In considering a human-centric approach he says it represents a significant shift in the industry for automotive manufacturers to move from a product to a service focus adding value at the life-level, which involves creating knowledge, enabling wellness, anticipating need, boosting efficiency, delivering safety, and personalizing experience to achieve ‘life-level mobility’.

Dale Harrow, chair and director of the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre at the Royal College of Art, adds: “Smart mobility is something that customers are probably using already throughout their daily experience without realizing and defining it as such. It is everywhere from information displays at transport hubs to mobility apps and even maps.

“Smart mobility will evolve with the changes to technology and the development of AI solutions as journeys become more integrated and intelligent with autonomous systems and devices. If successful, the customer should simply experience improvements in services and journeys, as successful smart mobility should be something that we experience rather than being something that we are aware of.”

The ‘journey experience’

While Rockwell refers to the life-level mobility, Harrow focuses on the ‘journey experience’, which he describes as being a process for deconstructing and understanding “the factors and interactions that people encounter through their mobility experience, to create better smart mobility.” In mapping the journey, subtle factors can be uncovered – ones that either make the experience poor or good. “For example, a whole journey may be considered poor by a single issue such as poor information at a station leading to confusion and anxiety,” he explains.

A spokesperson from Toyota and Lexus Europe’s connected Technologies department, suggests that there are two main drivers for this shift: in their view the first is environmental sustainability, safeguarding the planet, the renunciation of fossil fuels in favor of the circular economy; and the second, is a demand for increasing pragmatism towards mobility supported by the claim that cars spend 90% of the time idle with only 10% of the time being used to navigate increasingly busy roads requiring 100% of our attention.

The spokesperson comments: “More and more drivers are realizing they just want to go from A to B in an efficient, safe, and comfortable way but they want to optimize the time, energy, and money they to spend on it. Smart mobility will first aim at optimizing the 10% driving time and eventually minimizing the 90% idle time.”

Transformative connected mobility

The automaker considers transformative connected mobility to be about innovative technologies “that enable new business models that go beyond mobility.”  The spokesperson offers an example of this practice: “One example involves solutions that lower the barrier between car ownership to optimizing car usership. Innovations that will really start to optimize the time our car is idle, such as P2P car sharing, are still in their infancy today, but once autonomous self-driving cars are a fact, they will change the way we look at our car forever. That will be the moment that connected mobility will really become transformative not just for drivers but for society as a whole.”

Rockwell offers another example, that being V2V technology which uses intelligence to steer drivers away from problematic intersections, “to keep you safe in way that we haven’t had before, and in a way you wouldn’t realize.” The trouble though with technologies such as automated lane keeping systems (ALKS) is that they can make it difficult to know what the vehicle is doing.

ALKS keeps a connected vehicle within a lane and providers haptic feedback to the human driver. However, he says J.D. Power has reported that people don’t adopt this technology as quickly as we’d expect because the technology fights the driver. He remarks: “To be successful smarter automation can’t feel unpredictable and ambiguous. In that way it becomes integral and transformative to end-users.

“The role of automation is to take control from humans but it has to be done in a way to make people feel they’re still in control. With the acceleration of mobility innovations in automation and AI, the automotive industry has lapsed into a more technology-centric approach to design. We have the technology so we will use it and seek a consumer problem to solve but for smart systems to truly deliver value, we must develop them in a human-centric way – identifying value, delivering on emotional needs, and implementing systems that are predictable and unambiguous.”

Major transformative period

Harrow believes everyone is within a major transformative period, which has a focus on the impact of technology, environmental concerns, changing consumer expectations and new opportunities in for commerce. He claims all of these factors are in alignment with each other to the point that they will rapidly change how people travel, and how they experience travel, and who will provide the experience. “The dream of seamless mobility is near, and autonomous vehicles offer the final piece of the puzzle to create the systemic change that will enable it to flourish,” he suggests.

So, what opportunities for transformative connected mobility and to what extent does this involve connected and autonomous vehicles as well as integrated transport systems? Rockwell says multi-modal mobility solutions can be used to connect users to shared and public mobility services in a seamless and cohesive way.

He adds: “Consumers often express a desire for these services to know their ultimate goals… integrating with calendar and contact information for example to facilitate life-level personal, family, or business needs. User preferences should move from service to service making the journey more personalized and consistent. Automated mobility services, greet users by name, know the next destination and help them arrive on-time and with reduced stress.”

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