Case Study, Design

Top Car Designers Critique Google’s Self-Driving Car

What do some of the best designers think of the car with an actual smiley face on the front? We talk to former design chiefs at BMW, McLaren, and Mazda to find out.

Google’s self-driving car isn’t just unconventional in the fact that it drives itself: it’s an extremely unusual design, more reminiscent of micro-cars like the Smart Car, Fiat 500, and that weird BMW that Steve Urkel drove than a conventional auto. From the bulbous shape to the total lack of manual controls to the literal smiley face on the car’s face, the Google car isn’t quite like anything else on the road.

So we got curious: what do car designers think of it? Most active designers chose not to speak to us, not wanting to comment on what might be a competitor in the near future, but we tracked down three of the best designers in the business–or formerly in the business–showed them Google’s demo video, and asked for their thoughts.

Chris Bangle, former chief of design for BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce

Here we are seeing little footage pieces to the tune of a Playskool infant’s toy and it is hard not to come away feeling My First Car is rolling by … but in this case it would be My First Non-Car.

The single curve fascination as the concept for a vehicle has been around since The People’s Car was being born in Germany and Le Corbusier was exercising his compass and T-square virtuosity in France.

The “face” is supposed to be cutesy but is awful weak. Is it a cartoon or not? Their headquarters is near that of Pixar, but evidently not near enough.

Peter Stevens, former chief of design for McLaren, Lotus, MG, and consultant for…pretty much everywhere

What we have been allowed to see so far is a rather unsophisticated and naïvely detailed little two-seat car. It is inoffensive in the extreme, with a rather forlorn and apologetic look. The body overhangs the wheels in a way that makes it look rather unstable and the form appears to lack substance, whilst the derivative treatment of the lower sills suggest an immature vision of automotive forms. But the passengers in the Google video, mostly older people or people for whom driving is a stressful experience were clearly taken with the looks, ‘It’s so cute,’ being typical of the responses.

The concept of just sitting there and doing something else rather than driving suggests a passive approach to life, which I find rather sad. There is nothing wrong with cute, nothing wrong with small, nothing wrong with efficient but everything wrong with weak design. This car doesn’t need to look like a Ford Mustang or a Camaro but it does need to suggest that Google’s vision for future transportation is an attractive one that we will all want to buy into.

Tom Matano, former chief of design for Mazda, designer at General Motors, currently at the Academy of Art University

It looks like a Google. Somewhat quirky and fun, kind of colorful. It presented like Google to me. So the perception of what a Google car would be, I think it’s matched, in my opinion.

I don’t like that antenna on top [note: presumably it’s some kind of visual sensor or camera to assist with navigation]. They should have better solved that problem in a more production-ready way. But I guess it’s necessary equipment.

There’s a bigger perception/reality problem with self-driving cars, like airport people-movers. Remember when those first came out, they were talking about putting a driver on because people don’t trust them, people are against them? They say they have to have a driver even though safety track records say these are absolutely safe. I’m sure the driverless car is safe too, with all the GPS technologies and all, but people don’t accept it on the regular road [instead of] on a railway. How they are going to manage it is another issue.

Read More…

Advertisements

About Zoran Opalic

Professional in design and publishing industry. Conceptualize and orchestrate designs and redesigns that effectively reinforce and build brand images. Proven ability to drive record-high campaign in increasing publication sales and execute successful product launches...

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Top Car Designers Critique Google’s Self-Driving Car

  1. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few oof the images aren’t loading correctly.

    I’m not sure whhy but I think its a linking issue. I’ve
    tried it in twwo different browsers and both show the same outcome.

    Posted by social media campaigns | August 25, 2014, 2:19 pm
  2. І աas recommended tɦis website by means of my cousin. I’m not ѕure ѡhether or not this publish іs written ѵia him ɑs no one еlse recognize such certɑin aƄօut mʏ trouble.
    You are amazing! Τhanks!

    Posted by usedcarsjacksonville.co | September 23, 2014, 9:53 pm
  3. Great website you have here but I wass curious about if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topis
    talked abhout in this article? I’d really like to be a part of online
    community where I can get feed-back from other knowledgeable people that shasre the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thank you!

    Posted by Melody | September 24, 2014, 10:21 pm
  4. We stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought
    I might check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.

    Look forward to exploring your web page again.

    Posted by Fort Myers Used Cars | October 4, 2014, 4:31 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Aston Martin DB10

Production will be strictly limited to 10 of the bespoke sports cars, developed and built by the designers, engineers and highly skilled craftspeople at Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters.

Architect Oscar Niemeyer

"My work is not about form follows function, but form follows beauty or, even better, form follows feminine."

BACK to BASICS: Portraits

Portraits of people are one of the first elements of the photography used in newspapers.

Typography: x-heigh

In typography, x-heigh refers to the heigh of lower case letters without upper or lower parts when compared to capital letters...

Designer George Lois

“I always knew I was the most talented kid in the school, ” says George Lois of his time at Music and Art. “I was lucky to be exposed to the city’s best art education"...

BODY COPY

Newspaper typefaces require a higher legibility then typefaces used for other printed products. Newspaper are printed on a paper of lesser quality under high speed.

How to redesign 1

Good redesign is driven by a deep understanding of the editorial mission of the publication.

Headline on photographs

The eternal dilemma! Dilemma of all editors on the planet Earth – to put or not put the headline or any kind of type in the photo.

Design Facts

Three elements that will greatly help you to understand how readers are observing you.

Typeface: NY Times Magazine

Sunday Magazine is an expansive family of fonts for information in tiny spaces and headlines at large sizes.

Infographics

When, why and whether to use infographic. The basic fact is that infographic refresh the publication, and it contributes to originality of your product.

A well-designed publication

Everything that a well-designed publication must have...

Archives

Categories

%d bloggers like this: