HMI explorations 

for Driverless Cars 

HMI not for control, but for communication

How is designing for a driverless car different from designing for a car with a driver?

Driver assist technology in the information cluster + Non-drive car controls in central stack

In a traditional car, a human driver is responsible for navigating the vehicle. An information console helps the driver to assist in driving functions.

Personalized passenger control + infotainment cockpits for every passenger

A fully autonomous car does not have a driver. The car plays the role of the driver, navigator, chaperone, assistant.

Design Process 

Investigative research

I veered from the traditional design process by designing a study for understanding and speculating the best practices for automobile UX.


I discussed these probes with a few subject matter experts. 

My research began with trying to understand the differences between the Tech industry and the Auto Industry.


I was fortunate to have early access to designers from Ford Motors, Rivian and Mahindra. I also participated in UX meetups about designing for automobiles.

  • In the age of experience, how do we ensure that our vehicles stay as current and relevant as we want?

  • How might we ensure that the direct manipulation interfaces in the cabin deliver an experience that stays true to the expectations of users?

  • What experiences are at the core of people's life that they want translated into mobility?

  • Which aspects of their digital lives do users want translated to mobility?

Design Brief 



Enjoy tuning and tinkering with the car

Enjoy DIYs, adjusting parameters

Are open to building/purchasing custom-made accessories to personalize their experience


Early adopters and promoters of new and interesting features

Mindful of the latest technological advances

Enjoy crafting a socially and environmentally conscious image of themselves

How can their Car's User experience reflect their philosophy?

Can we do the same with UX?

Participatory Design User Probes 

I conducted the Co-design exercise to tease out the most relevant pieces of information that people look for when not in control of the vehicle.


I provided interface elements for them to configure their interface design. The elements are based on the interfaces of Waymo and UISEE. 

For example,

Maps: top view v/s first-person view.

Trip progress bar and arrival time.

Based on the study, I came up with contextual HMI building blocks like

•Talk to the car/driver

•Trip Information

•Navigation information


•Safety & reassurance

•Local information


•Emergency interactions etc.

Design Guidelines 

Based on the study, I decided to visualize the whole system as a composite of modules, each depicting a specific functionality from the information architecture

I conducted another simple survey of my target population to look for their preferences about different feature sets. I collected data for 24 people with the question of what they look for when using a car or while on a trip.

With numerous iterations of UI Design, I managed to put together some summary notes, feature ideas, explanations and design rationales for the things I came up with. This helped me to revisit some ideas I had which were based on research and feedback. Also, it allowed me to get a sense of the happy path for commute journeys.

Final Design Concept 

More screens coming soon!

© 2020 by Manasee Narvilkar