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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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Tractor Links Mon 13th April

  1. Milkshake Marketing Video
  2. Udemy – Mastering jobs to be done interviews
  3. Stop Making Users Explore
  4. What UI really is…
  5. Replacing User Story with Job Story
  6. Jobs to be done for my phone
  7. How to know what your customers really want
  8. Interview script
  9. $300m Button

Prototyping Tools

  1. Flinto
  3. Framer.js
  4. Balsamiq
  5. Invision

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.

Driverless Cars (1)

For most of this year I’ve been making time to learn about driverless car technology.

Humans driving cars is a problem. When we drive cars we are ‘machine operators’ and like any human who operates a machine, some are good and some are not. We get tired, we get distracted, we SMS, we get old, we get drunk.

Driving is dangerous. Driving is unproductive. Driving is wasteful.

My primary area of focus here is not the driverless technology itself, but the impact it will have on current systems and services and the in the new industries and services that will be developed as a result of it’s implementation.

Key benefits of the technology

  1. Health & Safety (lower incident rates of accidents)
  2. Productivity (more efficient travel times & ability to work or rest while in transit)
  3. Environmental (more efficient use of energy & a move to electric cars)

I’ll continue to research this topic and share links to research and development that I come across.


Below is a list of articles and videos I’ve found interesting so far and serve as a bit of an introduction to the topic:


1. (2011 TED talk) Googles Driverless Car by Sebastian Thrun


2. Google Self Driving Car Project (Official Google Blog, October 2010)


3. Google’s first prototype with no steering wheel (link)


3. Fortune Article on 3D printing human organs (link)

“A major source of organ donations? Auto collisions. Which means 3D printed organs won’t become a reality until we get self-driving cars, a surprising connection.”


4. How Google’s Driverless Cars Detect Aggressive Drivers (link)


5. Video of how the Google car navigates city streets

Product idea: SMS Based Personal Assistant

This past week I was in Brisbane promoting our upcoming design conference. I was scheduled in to give 15 presentations to design colleges / universities in 4 days.

The entire experience was made a lot easier because my amazing friend and business partner Leisha went to the effort of sending me an SMS at the beginning of each day with a list of the presentations I had that day, the address & location of the presentation and the room number and contact details of the person I had to check in with.


The Experience

While not highly technical, Leisha’s efforts made a huge difference to my week. Knowing I had all the details I needed in my phone meant I could focus on the task at hand and enjoy my down time without having to stress about where my next presentation was or how I was going to find the room.



Last month I was in SF staying by myself using Airbnb. At the time they were testing a new service named Local Companion. There service is an SMS style conversation with a person employed by Airbnb to help make your experience better.

In the screen shots below, you can see I was asked if I liked a band (based on a YouTube clip) and then offered two tickets to their gig that night.sms2 sms3


Surprisingly great

In each case, I’ve been surprised how great the experience has been. With the Airbnb example, I was travelling alone and I really appreciated some local suggestions of things to do and placed to visit. While in Brisbane last week, it was small thing to have locations and names SMS’d to me each morning, but knowing that I had the info with me meant I didn’t have to stress at all about being late or missing a presentation.


Other use cases

It’s easy to see how this kind of personal SMS based, assistant-style service would be valuable to a lot of people. Certainly organising appointments etc. is useful, but cafe or restaurant recommendations are great, but I can think of 100’s of other ways a service like this could be useful.

If the person at the other end knew I liked to cook breakfast on the weekend (which I do) I’d love to know if my local supermarket had avocados on special for example. The more the app/person knew about me, the more valuable it would become.


Could everyone experience this?

Airbnb has the resources to try this out without worrying about the cost and Leisha was doing her work on our company time, but is it possible that anyone could pay to use a service like this?

Here are some rough numbers I’ve been playing with.

I’ve estimated that 1 person might be able to handle 10 – 15 customers at one time. One of the tricky parts to this is that you can see this service being useful outside regular work hours as well as weekends so the amount of time required to service them is not clear to me.

Let’s work with the lowest and most conservative number of customers, 10 per employee.

Leisha was able to make a big different to my week by sending me a series of messages that I would think didn’t take longer than 30 – 45mins to put together. Across 10 customers though, that’s 7.5 hours or a typical work day.

If our employee is earning $60,000 per year, each customer would have to pay $6,000 a year or $500 per-month.

When I asked a couple of people about the idea today, then said they would like to pay “about the same as I pay for Spotify”. Spotify is $11.99 per month in Australia. So our new service is 41x Spotify right now.

Looking around online, some virtual assistants start around $30 a month and go to $200 and above, so it’s likely my estimates are off.



This wouldn’t be a difficult idea to prototype and test to get more information, but I don’t have the bandwidth right now to do so. I believe that people would love this kind of service but I think the challenge lies in creating a sustainable business around it.