IDK: An Interaction Development Kit to design interactions for lightweight autonomous vehicles

[1] Solomon et al., 2007. Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. [2] USEPA. (April 2012). Inventory of U.S Greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990-2016, Figure 3-5.


Various studies have demonstrated that privately owned cars will become significantly less prevalent in the city in the next 10 to 15 years. Other efficient alternatives for mobility platforms within the city are in demand around the world. One example is the emergence of the PEV (Persuasive Electric Vehicle), an agile autonomous bike-sharing platform (M. Lin, 2015). Based on this trend, it is reasonable to anticipate that increasingly more mobility systems of different forms will emerge in urban areas in the future. These new mobility systems might not necessarily be similar to cars; they may instead be a new class of social robot that could blend into the city more seamlessly. Moreover, when there is no longer a driver within each vehicle, designing human-machine interface (HMI) that is simple for users to process will be more important than ever. For example, if a pedestrian encounters a lightweight autonomous vehicle for which it is apparent that no one is in the vehicle, how can the pedestrian understand the intention of the vehicle? And how can we, as designers, make this more intuitive and seamless?

This thesis presents IDK, which is an Interaction Development Kit equipped with essential tools to help facilitate the design and prototyping process. IDK could be physically installed in PEVs, thereby enabling designers and developers to prototype human-machine interactions in a rapid and intuitive manner. This thesis also identifies multiple situations that a lightweight autonomous vehicle may encounter while navigating through streets and proposes a range of interactions that can tackle these problems. All prototypes from this thesis are based on the latest version of the PEV as an interactive platform. The proposed interactions are evaluated through outdoor testing as well as indoor exhibitions to determine how people respond to these new norms of communication. My hope is that the results of this thesis will provide useful insights for designers and developers who seek to develop interactions that allow humans to seamlessly interact with lightweight autonomous vehicles.

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