Teague LABS: autonomous ride-share future
Taking initiative to bring a team of designers together to think about the autonomous future of ride-share.
When the driver is no longer present how can we ensure the safety for all passengers?
About the project
After several recent PR nightmares have been brought to the news spotlight, many passengers are questioning, “Are ride-share services safe?”. With the future of autonomous vehicles becoming a likely reality, womxn and vulnerable groups are concerned over safety in a ride-share experience.
In terms of future thinking we also see how the view of gender has changed over time and believe it will only continue to change. Gender roles are shifting in our society and technology has to reflect these cultural shifts. Safety features can be implemented for the future of autonomous vehicles to better serve all people.
We explored current perceptions of existing safety features in ride-shares, interior features of autonomous vehicles and developed solutions and suggestions for the autonomous future.
We kicked the project off by collecting our initial research from the minds at TEAGUE and scholarly articles we already started connecting some themes and challenges to tackle.
Challenges to Solve
Ride-share companies currently have PR nightmares to deal with problems from the safety of the driver and passenger.
Safety features are buried within menus and in-app marketing.
Digital safety features will never be as useful as physical stop or “get me out” button, but how can they still be useful?
Womxn don’t feel safe in ride-shares but gender segregation in transportation is also not a solution.
Vulnerable groups don’t feel safe in current ride-shares, how can they be safe in the autonomous future?
How can other passengers hold each-other accountable for their behavior without a rating system?
Are bench seats opening doors for misbehavior?
Interior cameras and panic buttons will be apart of the vehicle, but how can be accessible for all ability?
To see current uses and perceptions of ride-share we created a survey to send to 20 participants.
Goal: Are safety features meeting users exceptions?
Taking the feedback from the survey and initial research, the information was then collected and written down on to individual sticky notes to visualize the data.
The data was analyzed into theme categories of:
Friends + Family
Sticky Note Colors:
Blue: Question from Survey
Yellow: Participant Responce
Orange: Responce Themes
Pink: Data Insights
Setting Expectations for Autonomous Ride-Share Companies
Equitable Expectations for All Passengers
A New Ride-share Vehicle
Of the available safety features, almost all require the vulnerable groups to shoulder the responsibility for their own safety.
safety precautions outside of the app:
Traveling in groups
Downloading third party apps
Fearing traveling alone with another stranger
Faking a phone call when alone
Changing/Moving drop off location away from home
We also found in a separate survey many responded they used their own safety methods outside of the app because they were unaware of the safety features within the app.
Current safety features go unnoticed.
Within ride-sharing applications riders can share their trip with trusted contacts. Our survey participants stated they would text their arrival time, send a screenshot of the license plate, and would use Apple’s FindMyFriends. Ride-share apps currently bury their safety features within menu windows rather present their safety information in a forward, easy-to-find location.
Insights turn to design
Suggestions and solutions fall into the following categories:
Setting Expectations for Autonomous Ride-share Companies
In order to have safety for all in the autonomous future, company policy needs to be accessible. Making the policy more active for users is a proactive approach to deter the harmful types of behavior from existing in the first place. Policy measures need to be put in place for all ride-share users to understand. Having users agree individually to the terms would slow down the process and tapping agree and moving on.
Current ride-shares bury their company policy deep within the app, making it hard for users to find. During the on-boarding process most users don’t read the terms and conditions for the application. Slowing the process by having the user select each policy measure to create time for the user to read the content and fully understand what they are agreeing to.
Equitable Expectations for All Passengers
Passengers that are in less vulnerable populations are just as responsible as the service company to provide safety within the ride-share. The everyday users are ultimately going to determine the safety of the vehicle. Developing a common interaction of an introduction between passengers can ease the initial tensions of sharing a small space with a stranger. In ride-sharing pool experience the third person should take on the role of an active bystander. If anything were to occur the bystander should report the incident. Verbal and offensive behavior is stated to be against company policy in current ride-share services however, those incidents still occur at alarming rates. It is the responsibility of all passengers to create a safe and respectful environment within the vehicle.
Interior surveillance and panic buttons will be an everyday factor of safety in autonomous vehicles. When the driver is no longer present, interior cameras will help deter from any poor behavior while within the ride-share. Passengers that violate the policy will have to have strict measures to prevent these behaviors from continuing.
Change Drop Off
During a ride the user should be able to change their drop off location at any point during the ride. Physical stop buttons for emergencies within the vehicle interior will be common place for the autonomous future. These button placements will need to be accessible to everyone within the vehicle, inclusive to all human ability and seating. If there is no emergency this in-app solution is a discrete way to leave the vehicle.
Understanding the experiences vulnerable groups face in ride-share will help create a safer ride-share service. Holding those accountable for their behavior by reporting their actions by to them to reflect over. Violators of company policy will have strict measures in place for certain uses to be warned, paused, or banned from using the service.
Fellow Passenger Message
The information will be passed on in a curated message to the other passenger to let them know what happened, further actions may need to occur from the service company.
If a passenger were to select a verbal or emotional report they would receive a warning for their behavior, explaining why the other passenger sent the report.
If the company needs to review the report and the behavior may be a risk to other passengers the user is temporarily paused until further notice.
If the company reviewed the information and the behavior is a high risk to other passengers they are no longer allowed to used the app.
Common questions listed at the bottom to explain the process and give more detail to what happened to the user receiving the message. Common questions may be: Why am I receiving this? What happens now? and Where can I find the Company Policy?
Pausing and closing accounts should only happen due to acts of violence or high risk to the other passengers. The goal of this feature is too keep people who don’t follow laws and/or company policy off the app, but provide an opportunity for people to reflect and correct their behavior.
With trust being a main concern for passengers in the autonomous future, service companies will need to be as transparent as possible on their safety statistics. Uber plans to release a safety report to the public by the end of this year. These reports will be eye opening to certain individuals who have never experienced a poor ride-share situation. Understanding the severity of the occurrences in harassment and assault should push safety measures further.
Check Ride Status
In current ride-share services users have their passenger rating. Replacing the rating, users can find their rider status. They can find if their account is warned, paused or closed. If their account is paused they can see how long their warning period is. During this time the user may experience longer wait times, fuller ride-shares, and longer trips.
In the case of an emergency
Emergency features will still need to be implemented into the digital application, as well as the interior of the vehicle. If a user selected they are not safe, the app can automatically contact police, then the user can speak to a 911 responder for immediate help. Location tracking will be implemented with the app and connect to police nearby.
Emergency physical buttons will be accessible to every passenger within the vehicle. The digital features allows for the dangerous situations where the user would need to be cautious and discrete.
If the user exited the vehicle and needs emergency assistance, or to contact police the police will be routed to their location. Once connected to a nearby officer their distance and location will appear on the app screen to let them know a responder is on the way.
A New Ride-share Vehicle
The autonomous ride-share vehicles of the future will need to be designed to be accessible and reliable for all passengers. The key difference in the autonomous future is there will be no driver to ask as a surveyor and facilitator in a conflict. Interior surveillance and panic buttons will be an everyday factor of safety in autonomous vehicles. Policy can be enforced outside of the mobile application, within the vehicle with interior messages and detection cameras. Without the driver present more safety features will need to be implemented inside the vehicle and on the mobile
Lighting is a key element of safety in cities and public transportation. Natural surveillance gives people comfort knowing pedestrians and people in passing vehicles can see into the vehicle. A “fishbowl effect” can be incorporated into the vehicle design with large windows covering the body. Dynamic lighting can be placed into the vehicle to react to movement. Windows allowing for natural light and surveillance makes people feel more comfortable. While riding in a car at night with the lights on a consistent bright setting is not ideal. Light will react to movement within the vehicle to dim or brighten based on the amount of movement.