Autonomous cars are coming. By early next decade (sooner, if you believe Elon Musk), you’ll climb in, enter your destination, and get back to thumbing your phone as the robot does the tedious work of driving.
A world in which cars are merely rooms on wheels provides new opportunities to entertain captive, bored passengers, not to mention sell them stuff. To explore that future, students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California (whose alumni include big name car designers at BMW, Lexus, and others) ignored the technical challenges of autonomy, and focused on how riding in these cars will feel.
During a 14-week course, they worked with everyone from artists to rocket scientists. They explored how to help humans trust the technology, how to make ride-sharing feel personal, even how to recreate experience of an old-school gasoline car like a Ferrari.
“Their visions may become reality sooner rather than later,” writes WIRED‘s Jack Stewart. Uber is already running autonomous trials in Pittsburgh, Lyft has partnered with General Motors to build a similar service, and other major players are building autonomous fleets or developing ride sharing services of their own. “Now the designers just need to catch up.”