The Road to Autonomous Vehicles: an Exploration into the Future of Mobility

10 Aug 2018 - Michaella Fenton

Earlier this year, Orange Bus received an invitation from Northumbria University’s School of Design to collaborate on an exciting design project which challenged their MA/MSc Multidisciplinary Design Innovation (MDI) students, on the topic of Autonomous Vehicles.

The 3 month project involved the exploration of the role of AI powered Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) within tomorrow’s society, and the pain-points and opportunities which could be afforded by our evolving relationship with mobility.

Through a process of research, public workshops and critical review, the MDI team analysed 60 different scenarios covering a wide range of AV-related topics, such as: how will AVs affect the daily commute? How will AVs cope with accidents, and interact with emergency services? How can AVs support an ageing population? How can AVs and AI enable frictionless trade borders? And finally, how can AVs support our wellbeing and emotional — not just functional — needs?

The consequences

A broad range of societal and ethical consequences of an AV future were also put under the lens; the loss of driving jobs, the way that city design and pedestrian attitudes may adapt and change in a world of automated traffic, data safety and privacy issues, and significant concerns around legal liability and public trust in AV technology.

Orange Bus’ Solutions Architect, John Shepherd, and AI Consultant, Dan Whaley, collaborated with the team over the course of the study, providing subject knowledge, technical expertise, guidance on research, discovery and evaluation techniques, and reviewing and discussing the students’ findings. The project ended with an opportunity for the students to visit Orange Bus and to present their findings at one of our weekly “Beers with Ideas” sessions.

Moving forward

This was a fantastic opportunity to take a deep-dive into the science of driverless vehicles, and to explore the technological, social and ethical aspects of a world-changing disruptive technology. Driverless vehicle trials are already taking place on UK roads, but while the computational problems of moving a vehicle autonomously from point A to point B are being solved rapidly, big questions and challenges remain around the effects that such vehicles will have on our cities, our society and culture, and how the user experience of mobility will be fundamentally changed for millions of people in the not-too-distant future.

This is a really exciting space to explore, and working with the Multidisciplinary Design Innovation team on this project has been a thought-provoking, interesting and enlightening experience.

Interested in how our technical experts can collaborate with you on a project, or how they can move your idea forward? Get in touch using the form below.

How can we help?
Get in touch with the innovators at Orange Bus

Thank you, your message has been submitted.