I’m a huge proponent of self-driving cars. While my in-laws find the concept of a computer driving us around terrifying, I find it liberating. After all, nearly all commercial aircraft are flown by computer (and in some cases they land and take off by computer as well). The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration found that an excess of 94% of all traffic accidents are primarily caused by human error. This topic in itself can lead to a rich class discussion.
Google, Apple, Uber, and other tech companies have led the charge in this space but traditional automobile manufacturers are starting to make progress with their roadmaps as well. This article talks about BMW’s current design concept for a self-driving electric car. What I particularly liked was the content talking about how they’re changing the design of the interior of the car since it no longer needs to be centered around a driver forced to look forward. Ask your students what the ideal self-driving car would look like on the inside. Does it look like the interior of a private plane or is it more utilitarian? Is it a portable living room with a large TV that can be watched by all occupants? As we move from human-driven to hybrid-driven and eventually to computer-only driven cars, what does that do to the product design? How does the adoption curve affect marketing strategies for this new category of cars?