Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has a goal of developing an autonomous vehicle that would be incapable of causing a crash. There are two different systems TRI is working on: Chauffeur, an SAE L4/L5 system, and Guardian, the automated driving system acts as a safety net for the human driver to help prevent an accident.

The overall goal of the user experience team is to create the perfect harmony between the car and the driver, which in turn builds trust with the driver. To achieve this, we utilize different types of sensors to better understand the driver, and we are building out a unified design language within the vehicle.

My role

I worked with a team of visual designers, user researchers, and engineers to design, test, and build out the experience. I worked closely with the director of UX to understand his vision and represent it in storyboards, sketches, or wireflows to share across the team for feedback before designing further for testing.

Process

High-level visions were set by the company and the UX director, and I spent time first reading through it and comparing it to the scenarios that were set in parallel to the user experience vision.

I created flow diagrams to extend the experience through the overall journey and extend use cases that may have initially been overlooked. Initially, the diagrams were higher level since I wasn’t at the point of defining specifications yet.

Based off the flow diagrams, I worked with visual designers that helped create the high fidelity visuals. Since some teammates were on the east coast, constant communication through email and messaging apps helped us stay aligned. We maintained our latest designs through shared repositories and used the same toolset of Sketch and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

I created specification documents to further define feature behaviors, and shared it across teams so everyone was aware of what we were working on.

I worked with engineers to understand what could be built into the car, and that’s when features and elements may get scaled back. I had to keep the rest of the team informed of the latest decisions and update the flows accordingly for the other designers to ensure the designs reflected the flows.

Experiences were tested internally with drivers and we refined our designs accordingly. Once our designs were in the car, we further refined these elements to ensure they were visible from different angles and lighting contexts.

I spent a lot of time with engineers to ensure the experience was working as expected by sitting in the car observing how other people interacted with the system and also comparing what I saw in the car compared to our design specifications. The most gratifying part was seeing the experience as an overall system and having our unified design come together.

Outcome

Our experience was put into our test car and presented in September 2017 for board members and investors. A video was released to the public explaining the Guardian and Chauffeur system along with the supporting user experience. Moving into 2018, the next challenge we were facing was applying our experience into the latest Platform 3.0 cars to further test our autonomous experiences.

All photo credit to Toyota Research Institute.

ClientToyota Research Institute (TRI)ServicesBrainstorming, information architecture, user flows, wireframes, interface design, interaction design, specification documents, front-end developmentYear2017, 2018Linktri.global

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