Designing the Autonomous RV
By Bennett King // Managing Partner
A few months back the Konrad+King team embarked on a design exercise as part of our continued involvement with designing the human experiences of autonomous vehicles. We started by examining to all forms of transportation. By switching up our usual methods of travel, trying out new transportation services, or turning a critical eye to the experience of business travel, we learned from our own new experiences, observed the people and world around us, and collected new ideas for autonomous vehicle projects.
We brought our ideas back to a workshop at the studio and started creating concepts. We collaborated, critiqued, and beefed up each other’s ideas. We worked on motion sickness in AVs, autonomous golf carts, self-driving public transportation, parking and parking lots for AVs, car ownership/sharing in the future…hell I think there was a Zamboni in there at one point. This is the magical point in collaborative design where ideas no longer belong to one person but become a fusion of the whole team.
Once we had critiqued the ideas we judged them on team interest, technical feasibility, market barriers, and most importantly human impact. In the end, there was one idea that resonated with the whole team, reinventing the family road trip using autonomous vehicles. We all found something that resonated with the family road trip.
As a kid, family road trips were a staple of summer vacation that (along with my complete lack of skill) consistently denied me playing on the little league all-star team, but also created legendary memories. I pay this forward to my own kids today.
The thing is, whether we had been on one, dreamt of one, or watched Clark screw one up, the human experience of this story is something we could all understand and empathize with.
With some quick guerilla research from a local camping group, we began identifying key user needs, and quickly identified two main design challenges that could greatly enhance the road trip of the future:
Design Challenge One: Making It Easy to Get Back to Nature
The dream of loading the family in the car or RV and getting back to nature is deeply embedded in our culture. Yet, in reality, this dream is getting harder to achieve. Our busy schedules rarely allow time to properly plan, driving long distances is rough on the whole family, and keeping the family interacting together is getting harder as we retreat into our devices. Can technology be used to alleviate these problems?”
Design Challenge Two: Reconnecting the Family
Technology is drawing us inward — into our homes, online spaces, and virtual environments — pulling us away from the natural world. It is also changing the way that we, as families communicate, replacing interpersonal experiences with less emotive on-screen interactions. Despite these factors the need for family bonding remains stronger and more necessary than ever. Can we embrace this trend in technology while still empowering and improving the family bond?
In the end, we realized that we were not designing a single object like an autonomous vehicle, but an outcome or an experience instead. The autonomous vehicle (in this case an RV) was just one component in what was really a system of interactions and touchpoints that become a service. We designed a service that embraces technology, reinventing the way families connect with each other and with nature. We call our service Terraventure American Road Cruises and it incorporates an intelligent personal assistant with a fleet of fully supplied and outfitted autonomous RVs to transform the family recreational experience into a stress-free, all-inclusive, family adventure…and we think it will reinvent the great American roadtrip.
To see what we came up with join us over at part two of the blog: 7 Key Experiences for the Autonomous Recreation Vehicle Service