These are truly out-there ideas.
While most car enthusiasts are still trying to get Lexus to bring the LFA supercar back into production, the Japanese automaker has been focusing on possibly building a new SUV while also directing its resources towards the future of autonomous driving. In keeping with the latter objective, Lexus recently partnered with the TED Fellows program, a group of "thought leaders" in various industries. The aim was to develop new designs for autonomous vehicles that prioritize the people using them rather than the technology that underpins them. To do this, TED Senior Fellows neuroscientist Greg Gage and artist Sarah Sandman got to work and revealed their designs today.
"Focusing on what makes people tick, especially when behind the wheel, has always been central to Lexus design," said Lisa Materazzo, vice president of Lexus marketing. "Partnering with TED has allowed us to explore new human-centric ideas for an autonomous future with visionary experts in their fields."
Greg Gage has a certain level of experience with design as his expertise is not limited to just neuroscience and extends to engineering too. His idea of the ideal autonomous car combines both disciplines. His design is a "brain-car" interface that would allow the vehicle to detect how the driver feels and adjust various settings to suit. For example, if you're stressed, the radio could be silenced and lit up. If you're relaxed, the car could automatically cue a chill playlist. This reminds us of Jaguar's efforts to make cars more enjoyable to be driven in too.
Sarah Sandman's vision sees a vehicle that connect the inside to the outside with 360 windows, rotational seats, a speaker system that could allow occupants to interact with pedestrians and cyclists, and even a chalk-writing system that would allow one to draw pictures or inscribe words on the street. This would encourage someone driving in an autonomous car to interact with outside entities instead of just their smartphone. Sandman's proposal also suggests a cooperative ownership model to make cars for affordable for more people. To encourage social interaction inside the car, the vehicle would feature a digital fireplace, pillows, and a terrarium-like ceiling.
We don't know if these ideas will ever make it to a production version of the Lexus LS or something else, but anything is possible.