Audi Project

Role: Product Designer
Project Duration: 8 months
Project Year: 2012/13
Sponsor: Audi and Volkswagen ERL
Team: Sangram Patil, Stephanie Tomasetta, David Wang, Sifo Luo, Heikki Sjöman, Tommi Tuulenmaki, Goran Bjelajac

The brief was to design the interior of an autonomous vehicle for 2025. The task everything but easy. First you need to understand what the world is going to be like in the future and how cars, technology and infrastructure will develop. Another thing you need to consider is that the user won't be the same as the one today. They will have different needs and values. 
If the car drive itself, there is no reason for a driver to constantly look outside and for the first time, a driver can face other passengers and have different activities while being driven. After very intensive research that lasted for almost six months, we identified that the biggest challenge in autonomous vehicles will be how to change body positions and transit from various activities in such a compact space. 
First tough decision was to eliminate the shotgun seat. Even today, the most vehicles are one person vehicles and the families are most often three person family in developed world. Trends predict even worse case in the near future where people will have zero to one kid. In such circumstances, there is no reason for more than three seats. That leaves the space for rotating the seat entirely, and face other passengers. 
Another problem is how to change the seat position in a most user friendly way, while still keeping the rigidity of the seat in making turns. The normal spinning chair will just randomly spin when the car is turning. To prevent that, we developed a sophisticated sensor system integrated in the seat that follows your natural body movements. When you lean forward, the set will follow. When you push the back rest consistently for three seconds, the back rest will decline. You get the point. Movements completely simulate movements with the normal office spinning chair. 
The entire concept is finalized and presented at the exhibition at Stanford University and to Volkswagen executives. They were impressed. 

Video demonstration of the chair functionality you see in this video. 

More detailed description of the entire project and the concept, you can see in the blog post.