Designing for Autonomous Vehicles at NC State

NC State College of Design

Topic: Autonomous Vehicles, GD 400, Autonomous System 
Transcript Excerpt
GD 400 courses are special topic courses in graphic design and change. It is an advanced course, so rather than being a broad studio covering many things, the GD 400 goes really deep into one topic. The topic for the GD 400 that Helen Armstrong taught was thinking about the user experience of autonomous vehicles. Helen Armstrong and class were specifically thinking beyond the experience of getting from point A to point B and thinking instead about all of the data those autonomous vehicles will collect and then what people can do with that data to benefit both individual users and passengers but also larger communities. Jeremy Perry said that if people have got a vehicle which is really like a server of computers on wheels with all kinds of sensors and ability to intake data and process data and it’s out in the world so if a person has all that capability out there. What can it do as it moves through space and through environments? In this process and in this project, Shayna McKinnon, a student, says specifically when a person is designed for autonomous vehicles, a person has to create things that are designed only for it. In thinking of what a vehicle is capable of, like all the sensors, NC State – College of Design came to a point where it was challenging to figure out what the user would need to know versus showing everything that autonomous vehicles are capable of. The NC State – College of Design’s focus was trying to figure out how the data that the AVEs were collecting on a daily basis could help NC State – College of Design’s unique personas in different ways. The students tend to really enjoy these sponsor studio projects because the students get a chance to work with a lot of different types of stakeholders and users. Some of the student groups were developing a user experience for EMTs. So, the students spend a lot of time talking to EMTs. Another group was working with roofers. So the students spend a lot of time talking to roofers. So the students spend a lot of time getting to know an industry or domain that the students wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to. In a typical studio, Helen Armstrong thinks that the students get a glimpse into what being a designer in a real company in real life is like. So Helen Armstrong thinks that the students get something by interacting with professional designers in the field, and the students get to make some contacts and really understand a little bit more about what their profession is going to be like when they leave school. Helen Armstrong thinks that Red Hat also benefits by tapping into that fresh perspective and getting those new ideas flowing, and generating excitement on all sides.  


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