City Robotics: Designing for People-Centric Mobility


Tomi Um / MIT Technology Review

Tomi Um  /  MIT Technology Review

Saturday — Monday
September 15, 2018 —
September 17, 2018

City Robotics: Designing for People-Centric Mobility

Recent advancements in autonomous and intelligent machines introduce an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how people live, work, and play. Mobility—personal or shared,  passenger-use or goods-moving—can be designed to prioritize the human experience, enhancing people’s abilities to lead creative, productive, gratifying and sustainable lives.

Don Norman and Colleen Emmenegger of the UC San Diego Design Lab and Kent Larson of the MIT Media Lab jointly bring together leading scientists, engineers, designers and policymakers from across the public and private sectors to address emerging challenges in urban mobility and to explore new directions for potential futures.  

Part I   |   Design + Make  (Sept.  15-17)

MIT students and company representatives will participate in an around-the-clock workshop to brainstorm and prototype their proposals, building on the following themes (cash prize to be announced soon):

  • Lite Mobility:  How might we make active mobility—walking, cycling, skateboarding, etc—a universally awesome experience, or even enable new ways of travel in the city, for not just individuals, but also lovers and families? 
  • Socially Intelligent Robots:   How might we make machines socially and sensorially emphatic to enhance the wellbeing of people and to enable a more trusting, productive and sustainable relationship?  
  • The New Street:  How might we reimagine the street and urban infrastructure to respond to emerging challenges associated with new technology and changing modes of consumption, and facilitate sustainable community development while prioritizing the human experience?
  • Urban Services:  How might we reinvent the fulfillment of private/public services—delivery, collection, maintenance, etc.—to elevate the quality of everyday life in the city?
  • Mobility for All:  How might we provide equitable access to mobility services for poor neighborhoods and for citizens with enhanced needs?

Member company representatives are welcome to attend and participate.

Register now! — hackathon

Part II   |   Member Workshop  (Sept.  17)

Join the UCSD Design Lab, MIT researchers and chief scientists/designers of member companies for lightning talks, sharing of new technologies and research learnings, identification of sectoral challenges, ideation on potential solutions, and review of outstanding proposals from the Design+Hack session.

Seat Limit:  2 delegates per member organization 


8:30am  |  Breakfast

9:00am  |  Lightning Talks:  with Don Norman, Kent Larson, Colleen Emmenger, MIT scientists  and industry leaders

10:30am  |  Ideation Session guided brainstorm on the future of urban  robots and human-centered design

12:00pm  |  Lunch

1:00pm  |  Ideation Session

3:30pm |  Hackathon Presentations 

4:30pm  |  Judging

5:15pm   |  Awards and What’s Next

5:30pm  |  Reception: Media Lab member company representatives join student hackers for food, drink, and continued idea exchange

Register now! — This workshop is for Media Lab member company representatives only


Don Norman


The UC San Diego Design Lab is a center for interdisciplinary design focused on providing research, education, and community interaction. The Design Lab focuses upon complex sociotechnical issues in such areas as mobility, education, activity-based visualization, healthcare, and social computing. Although the Design Lab is new, members of the Design Lab helped introduce the fundamental concepts of user-centered system design (through a book with that title—UCSD) in 1987, which today is called human-centered design. Today, the Design Lab is developing a new philosophy: variously called democratizing design, bottom-up design, or community-driven design, moving away from external experts who tell people and communities what they should be doing, and instead, working with creative people in communities to help them develop and communicate their ideas.

MIT Media Lab transcends known boundaries and disciplines by actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture that emboldens unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. The Lab creates disruptive technologies that happen at the edges, pioneering such areas as wearable computing, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. The City Science group proposes that new strategies must be found for creating the places where people live and work, and the mobility systems that connect them, in order to meet the profound challenges of the future.

More event information to follow.  Stay tuned and save the date!

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