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Article: “Driverless cars to alter legal profession” (in Aus)

Sam Altman runs in front of driverless car

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IDEO on Autonomous Cars

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 4.37.03 pm

IDEO have built a nice site called where they explore ideas and concepts about the future of, among other things, driverless cars.

There are some really interesting stats on the site and some nice mock-ups of how cars may look.

One stat that caught my eye was this: “Each autonomous shared vehicle could replace 11 conventional cars”.

That is the first time I’ve seen anyone put a figure on it and that’s a pretty significant figure.

If you’re interested in the topic, the site is well worth a look.



Diverless cars – “15 years away”

Above: Jen-Hsun Huang of Nvidia and Elon Musk of Tesla at GPUTech 2015. Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

“We’ll take autonomous cars for granted in short time.” – Musk


Venture Beat shared some insights from Elon Musk on autonomous cars at a recent conference in the U.S.

Every time I hear of a road fatality or of someone who writes off their car in a crash,  it’s hard not to be frustrated because it seems to be very clear now that this will not be a problem future generations will have to deal with.


As far as safety goes, Musk said, “The evidence is already overwhelming” that self-driving cars can be better at things like alerting us to brake lights ahead than human reflexes are.


Read the full article here


Driverless Cars (2)

Stanford engineering professor Chris Gerdes has been examining the complexities of programming self-driving cars to make moral decisions — in this case, the “trolley problem” involving a decision that saves some lives at the expense of another’s.


I try and read up on and write document driverless car technology as often as I can. As the computer disrupted many peoples offices, so will driverless cars disrupt our roads and many industries that use cars and trucks.

Today I came across this fascinating article on C-net about the tricky moral problems driverless cars present.

There are some really interesting questions, for example, in case of accidentwhat if the fewest people will be killed if a car’s driver and passengers are the ones to die?”

It seems like these kinds of questions will eventually have to be answered because the kind of situations where these decisions come in to play will unfortunately occur.

I generally believe that when technology, business & design get together, our species will be left better off that before. I believe humans should not drive cars and than machines/computers/robots should take over so we are all safer and more productive.

But in the article mentioned above Brad Templeton, who has consulted to Google on these kinds of topics makes this interesting point:


“There will be difficulties when, inevitably, a self-driving car is found responsible for someone’s death. But it’s important to consider what happens if we let humans keep on driving, too…

People do not like being killed by robots. They’d rather be killed by drink,” Templeton said. “We’ll be choosing between our fear of machines and our non-fear of being killed by drunks because we’re so used to it.”


“People don’t like being killed by robots.” I love that line, mainly because I think it is true. It feels like whenever a new technology is introduced, there are generations of people who fight it and dismiss it, but to the generations of people who grow up with it, it seems like the perfect answer to real problem.

You hear cab drivers complain about Uber. My parents question the insurance and safety, but I hope my children have a point of view that car ownership is a waste of money.

You hear people question Airbnb, again about safety, but I hope my children don’t see the sense in hotels.

We will hear people complain about driverless cars, but I wonder if one day we all believe that being killed by a robot is a better out come than being killed by a drunk driver.

Or maybe death won’t be a problem if Google keep working on it.


Idea: Flight Status Update, Auto-SMS

The Problem

Last Sunday I took a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne with 3 friends. After we took off (and after I had turned my phone off), the pilot announced that due to wind conditions, the flight would be arriving 25 mins early at 12:50pm.

Normally this would be good news, however we had organised a car to pick us up at 1:45pm (allowing for a 1:15pm arrival and collecting our luggage). Because we were unable to use our phones during flight, we were unable to send a message to the person picking us up to let them know we were going to be early.

The result was that we ended up waiting at Melbourne airport for about 40mins.


The Solution?

As we landed, I thought a simple fix to this problem could be to add auto-sms update system. As you check in or book your flight, the customer is asked if there is someone picking you up at the other end who could benefit from know if the flight is early, on time or delayed.


Flight tracking apps already provide people with arrival time information, but they require the person picking you up to be proactive or have the app installed etc. An SMS (or I suppose email) is a very cheap and efficient way to keep everyone informed. Like any good relationship, communication is they key. The value to the person flying and the person picking you up is potentially very high.



Photo 24-09-2014 11 32 34 am

The Opportunity

A quick scan of the ‘Domestic airline on time performance’ stats for August 2014 (which is put out by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development in Australia), shows that:

  • 82.4% of flights departed on time
  • 83% of flights arrived on time
  • 1.8% of all flights were cancelled
  • Virgin Australia had the highest percentage of cancellations with  3.4%
  • Qantas had 1.1% cancellation rate
  • The Melbourne – Sydney route had the highest cancellation percentage 4.9%


Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 12.16.07 pm

Here are the definitions for on time departures and arrivals:

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 12.19.36 pm

It seems fair to say that there are not a huge amount of flights that are arriving early or late or being cancelled, but there are certainly some and for the cost and complexity to build this, it could be worth the investment.

Why this may not get built

This idea is likely 5-10 years too late. It also could exists (does it?). A number of flights in America now offer in flight WiFI which makes this service redundant. Although in flight WiFi typically has to be purchased, which could mean this idea has some legs left in it.