Level 3 Autonomy from the Ground Up
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are cars that can drive themselves using a combination of sensors and software to control steering, acceleration, and braking. The Society of Automotive Engineers has defined 6 different levels of autonomy, ranging from 0 to 5 based on the car’s autonomous capabilities. Level 0 would be a completely manual vehicle such as Ford’s Model T. Most cars we own today are Level 1: the driver controls most aspects of the vehicle, but a specific function (e.g., cruise control) can be done by the car. Level 3 autonomy is conditional autonomy: the vehicle is driving itself until conditions change such that the driver must take control. It is important for the driver to know their responsibility and for the vehicle to validate that the driver is ready to step in.
When a car is in autonomous mode, we believe that there is potential for a range of new experiences and possibilities. Conditional autonomy might, for example, offer a unique opportunity for users to spend their time however they prefer. As we are moving towards an increasingly more autonomous world, it is essential for designers to deeply understand the relationship between driver and vehicle. This understanding will enable them to create AVs that will be impactful, trustworthy, and enjoyable. Ford is already a household name, but as it transitions into a new mobility era, its aspiration is to become not only the world’s most trusted car company but the world’s most trusted company period. Ford believes that freedom of movement drives human progress, and it aspires to design smart vehicles for a smart world.
The Olin SCOPE team worked alongside Ford to reimagine the driving and riding experience in a vehicle with Level 3 capability. To do this, our team conducted research and interviews to deeply understand users and their needs, while trying to help them envision a future they had not yet experienced, and generated numerous insights and scenarios that captured the opportunities for decreasing the “lows” of driving while increasing the “highs” of driving. The work culminated in a number of prototypes and hypotheses that offer Ford a vision of a Level 3 autonomous vehicle designed from the ground up.