The Stewart II picks up on a very good detail as to why self-driving cars are such a scary, unpredictable ordeal. It’s because of the word unpredictable. You’re much more in control of the situation when you’re commandeering the vehicle, but what when you relinquish that power to artificial intelligence? You put your confidence and life in the hands of a machine, not knowing exactly what it’s going to do next. With the Steward, all that changes.
The Stewart II (it’s in its second iteration, after having bagged a Core77 Design Award for its first stage) is a haptic human-machine interface for your self-driving car. Shaped like a mouse, mounted on a complex set of linkage rods, the Stewart can lean in directions and rotate, informing the person in the driving seat about what the car’s going to do. Placing your hand gently on the mouse-shaped form allows you to be informed of how the car plans to navigate through obstacles, without having to take your eye off the road. You can even maneuver the mouse-shaped form around, informing the car’s AI of your own intentions, allowing you to be a part of the driving process without necessarily driving. The Stewart II creates a bridge between the intentions of the human and the automobile, allowing you to ‘discuss’ the way forward while the car ultimately chooses what’s best for you, taking your inputs into consideration, and constantly keeping you in the loop. While this technically means you’re still taking partial control of the car, it also allows you to share the responsibility with the machine while staying informed at every step, so that the self-driving journey is never unpredictable to the people sitting inside.
The Stewart II is a winner of the A’ Design Award for the year 2017.
Designer: Felix Ros