Waymo is investing a lot of time and hard work on building out the user connection with its self-driving vehicles, which includes both external and internal user-facing top features of its autonomous cars. This includes taking a look at everything from how an user gets found during a ride-hailing experience, to conntacting others sharing the road, to what sort of user interacts with the car as soon as on board â? and itâs some thing the company is clearly investing a lot more in now that its actual self-driving software and hardware is becoming elderly.
UX design head Thomas Powell explained during a press occasion at Waymoâs Castle proving coffee grounds that the goal of the user interface in the vehicle is to provide a clear feeling of what the car can see, and exactly what the virtual driver intends to perform. Research shows that a lot of the communication in between a human driver and their particular passenger occurs non-verbally, so the problem for Waymo has been to reconstruct that experience, which is generally one of shared trust between passenger and driver, between human users and the autonomous vehicle itself.
Part from the way Waymo is trying to do that will be by providing riders with a visual meaning of what the car is viewing on the road. The wireframe images you might have seen from other engineer-oriented visual roadmaps of autonomous vehicle sensor blend pictures obviously arenât very usually user-friendly, so Powell and his group set up to create a more broadly palatable version of that so-called âx-view,â which usually eliminates some elements, highlights other people, and generally dresses up the elements to get something thatâs not only informational, but additionally interesting and pleasing to look at.
This view will delineate people, distinguish cyclists and people on skateboards with distinct imagery, and also format buildings and other geographical landmarks therefore riders can see how the objects upon screen relate to those outside. The particular virtual camera angles of the screen also mimic the way a drivers looks around when doing such things as entering an intersection or blending with traffic, all again with all the effort of making the rider feel at ease with the driving decisions being produced.
âItâs really key for riders to focus their attention on the critical elements for a given situation,â Powell says, explaining why theyâve decided to exclude some visual elements, and also to do things like place flashing shows on any emergency service automobiles picked up by the Waymo sensor collection.
On top of all of the, thereâs also a 2D âstatus layerâ overlay, which displays simple information straight, including the time left in journey, traffic light status when in a stoplight, and spelled out actions the vehicle is currently undertaking, like âyielding for pedestrians,â therefore people can see at a glance why the vehicle has slowed down or stopped.
Waymo Project Manager for UX and the Early Rider Program Juliet Rothenberg is more focused on other actual physical elements of the overall user experience. The lady described making sure that riders have a feeling of control from the get-go, having a simple console featuring buttons that will allow riders to start the trip once inside, as well as âPull overâ when they want to stop at any time, lock or even unlock the doors, and also, crucially, join direct contact with a live Waymo support agent at any time. This, combined with in-car displays, is all about making sure cyclists can always trust the vehicle in order to behave as it expects.
âWe learned something that anyone whoâs ever been in a relationship can understand,â Rothenberg explained. âPredictability and communication are key to trust.â
Rothenberg noted that the Early Rider plan in Phoenix has been incredibly well-known thus far â? they received more than 10, 000 applications within the very first 24 hours from local inhabitants. Itâs been live for 8 months now, and Waymo gets a ton of feedback on UX, making use of feedback forms distributed after every single ride, polls sent out to plan participants and eve ride-alongs along with members of the team to gather reside feedback in situ.
One of the big takeaways thus far involves pickups. Waymo says it discovered that riders arenât always accurate about specifying pickup points, plus unlike with an Uber driver, for example, you canât just call somebody directly to clarify where you want to satisfy. They found that often riders might find the car approaching and walk to fulfill it, too, and that the car as being a computer will still proceed to the actual specified pickup location. Waymo will be testing tweaks that allow the vehicle to recognize their rider and intercept them on route if they observe them walking in the carâs path as a result.
Thereâs still plenty of work to do on UX to get autonomous cars, including things like determining how to signal to a rider which usually vehicle is theirs once they be a little more commonplace. But Waymo is also currently thinking about deployment strategies, too, plus itâs weighing a few different options.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that the company is obviously considering trip hailing and ride sharing, having a own fleet and services with partners, and he also said itâs looking with great interest on autonomous trucking since thatâs a comparatively low-hanging fruit in terms of applications to get autonomous vehicles. He also pointed out partnering with cities on offering last-mile transit solutions in combination with current infrastructure, and even working with carmakers upon providing autonomous features in customer vehicles.
Waymoâs main function used to be making sure its robot vehicles could navigate roads, but now itâs clearly giving a lot of time and focus on making sure it can navigate people, as well âÂ and find profitable business versions for commercial operation. Asked about research that show skepticism around self-driving vehicles, Krafcik said that on stability, what Waymo is seeing out there surveys is actually promising for them like a company.
âWeâve read most of these studies and for the most part they say around half of customers are uncomfortable,â he stated. âWe look at that and we say âWow thatâs so cool, half of customers are already comfortable with this!’â