FCA Scout Commuter


Design Research, Storytelling, User Experience • 2017

As part of our junior year Design Studio, we partnered with Fiat Chrysler Automotive to create a future scenario fueled by the trend towards automotive autonomy. We pushed ourselves to design for the year 2050 and beyond, hoping to imagine possibilities of what life would be like for the average commuter.  

Created by Selena Norman, Jesse Klein, and Lois Kim. Sponsored by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Junior Design Studio, Spring 2017. 

The Challenge

It is 2050 and the world of commuting has been changed by the introduction of autonomous vehicles. Our mission was to create an optimal future shaped by autonomy and its effect on commuting. 

The Proposal

An augmented reality interface for commuting vehicles to help workers mentally transition between projects and locations, using virtual collaboration to fill in knowledge gaps within teams, and map out information spatially to help people to better understand.

The Future of Work

Our first hurdle was to understand the future of work and commuting. With extensive research, we came to the conclusion that having a single occupation will be on the decline and a gig economy will be the norm. We hypothesized that by 2050 people's skill sets will be the determining factor for the 'jobs' or projects they are commissioned for.

Changing Work Factors

Our research suggests that in the future, the rigid corporate ladder of today’s workplace will be replaced by networks of individuals with diverse skill-sets, working together on a variety of projects. In this so-called “gig economy,” cognitive, process, and social skills will be in high demand, and active learning will be essential as workers move fluidly between projects and teams of people. 

We started by investigating the transition between urban and suburban spaces and how that shapes the layout of cities and the opportunities people have access to. 

Our conclusion was that we wanted to create a future where autonomous vehicles utilize aspects of gig economy infrastructure and lessen the burden on those who commute long distances. In doing so, our solution would capitalize on the dead space of the commute and support the needs and values of the user.   


In the future, individuals will work on a variety of projects in different fields, relying on a flexible set of skills and
constantly picking up new information in order to remain adaptable. Although communication technology will
allow the work schedule to be more flexible, people will still travel, most likely to modular co-working spaces in
order to meet in person with new teams or access facilities.

We designed a commuting environment to help keep teams updated and workers prepared by
relaying information over the course of the journey their workplace.
Based on existing profiles of workers and projects,
this system could address individuals’ knowledge and skill gaps, laying out information spatially to take
advantage of the motion of the vehicle.

A Day with Scout

Avery needs to travel to the job site and prep for her meeting with Jeremy and other project partners. She arranges for a pick-up from SCOUT in the morning. After logging her itinerary, SCOUT creates a personalized schedule to facilitate a successful and productive commute. 


Virtual Collaboration
Uses virtual collaboration to fill in knowledge gaps within teams. Allows the rider to seamlessly switch between projects and be up to date on a variety of projects.

Responsive Interior
Adapts to the user's work schedule and provides the necessary resources for a productive commute such as projection, augmented reality, and responsive voice commands. 

Help workers mentally transition between projects and locations and act as markers for SCOUT to spatially map out information.

Built in telepresence and AR technology helps fill in knowledge gaps between team members by providing them with targeted information before bringing them together for real-time virtual communication, as shown in this timeline.


Responsive Interior

The commute can be a space for virtual collaboration. Working or meeting in a shared
space can also ease the transition into the workplace. 

Adapts to the user's work schedule and provides the necessary resources for a productive commute such as projection, augmented reality, and responsive voice commands. 


The checkpoints act as a virtual checklist to help the user prepare effectively for their day. 

Help workers mentally transition between projects and locations and act as markers for SCOUT to spatially map out information.

Virtual Collaboration

Checkpoints will also bring about virtual collaboration if blocked into your commute schedule. Things like video chat meetings will be mapped out to best prepare you within your customized schedule.


As a team we wanted to fully understand what people valued when it came to their commute and locations. We conducted generative research ranging from team activities to abstract visualizations.

Preliminary Interviews
Our team conducted interviews in suburban and urban neighborhoods to understand people's values. We asked questions like: "What do you like about the street/neighborhood/city you live in? What would you miss if you left?" We found that people valued convenience, familiarity, and a sense of community. 

We asked ourselves how can we provide people with the feeling of access and proximity to the things they value even as the distance between those things increases?


Generative Neighborhood Activity
We asked participants to imagine a day in their lives 30+ years in the future, laying out building blocks and drawing connections as they described the course of their day.

People enjoy a bubble atmosphere and want to live in a space that feels separate but convenient to their personal needs. People tend to separate work and leisure. People's need for convenience seemed to influence their decisions when creating future scenarios. 


Collaborative Block Activity
We asked two participants to build a structure together out of blocks. Watch how they communicate with one another to achieve their end goal.

Participants generally followed a pattern of planning, building, testing, and revising their ideas. In some groups, one person took charge of the process, while others were able to share the responsibility.We found that people’s collaboration styles changed depending on their level of trust. Participants who were friends shared responsibility easily, while strangers had to do much more planning before starting to collaborate.

In Conclusion

After gathering the data, researching the future of autonomy, and cataloging the nuances of the human experience of commuting, we came to the conclusion that people need reliability and familiarity in order to properly plan. If people live farther from where they work, then their commute time will undeniably increase.


A big thank you to the FCA team and Ralph Gilles for giving us the opportunity to imagine this autonomous future. It was a wonderfully challenging experience to imagine such a system and tell our story. 

Made in partnership with Jesse Klein and Lois Kim for the Junior Product Design Studio Spring 2017.