Designing the Robotaxi Rider Experience

Motional is a self-driving startup, founded as a joint venture by Hyundai and Aptiv. I joined Motional's Rider Experience Team in 2020 to lead the Rider Experience Design of our Next Generation Robotaxi – a Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV, customized and tailored to the needs of ride-hailing passengers in the US.

As a Principal Experience Designer and Director, I led some of the most complex design initiatives we had, including:

  • Design/Creative Direction; leading to a compelling, multi-modal rider experience built for all customers, regardless of their abilities
  • Tying together user journeys and flows for the entire rider experience
  • UI Design for in-cabin touch displays and a mobile booking app
  • Spec’ing rider HMI output and control interfaces – including displays, vehicle lighting, sound, and voice
  • Lighting animation and voice/sound design direction
  • Design and prototypes for key use cases such as; Building Trust, Finding, Identifying, and Unlocking the vehicle, customizing the ride, arriving at destination, and more
  • Department growth strategy – including hiring designers and prototypers, and founded our user research team.
Motional Rider Experience Overview

From End to End: User Flows and Mapping the Ideal Rider Experience

Early on I focused on fully understanding and mapping the ride-hailing journey. I worked with our team of designers, researchers, product managers, and prototypers to break down the experience into smaller pieces, conducting targeted research to understand riders’ pain points and mental models.

Representative self-driving user journey

Motional High Level User Flow Motional High Level User Flow

Master User Flows for Shared and Private Rides

Motional High Level User Flow Motional High Level User Flow


Designing and Prototyping an Experience Riders Love

I used our foundational learnings to develop low and high fidelity design concepts, for use cases and scenarios in our rider journey. This included UX and UI design for the in-vehicle rider app (plus light, sound, and voice), and a stand-in for Uber and Lyft’s booking apps.

Because we wouldn’t have a production car until closer to launch, the team and I outfitted several iterations of test cars with homegrown HMI and digital design prototypes. I worked with our industrial design and engineering teams on HMI component prototypes – including tablets, exterior displays with 3d-printed mounts, 3d-printed hard keys, reactive LED lighting, sound effects and voiceovers, and prototypes for the booking app and in-cabin displays.

Rider UX – including screens, hard keys,
lighting, and mobile booking app

Motional in-vehicle app mockups Motional booking app mockups Motional booking app mockups

Prototype Hardware & software
interactive prototypes

Motional door LED strips prototype Motional external display prototype Motional external display prototype 2 app mockups Motional footwell lighting prototype

Evaluative Research: Studying Rider Behavior

As I developed concepts and prototypes for use cases, we frequently conducted evaluative research to understand if our solutions were meeting rider needs, were accessible, and were easy to use. Over the course of several years I was involved in or led dozens of user research studies, including with disabled participants of varying abilities.

I used the outcomes from those research sessions to iterate on our design solutions – eventually documenting outcomes in product requirement specifications for our partners in Hyundai and engineering.

Concept/User testing in vehicles on public roads and our test track

Motional in-vehicle app mockups Motional booking app mockups Motional in-vehicle app mockups Motional in-vehicle app mockups Motional booking app mockups

On the Road: Moving into Production

As I designed solutions, I collaborated often and directly with engineering teams at Motional, Hyundai, and external suppliers. I worked with partners to investigate feasibility, cost, and review sample hardware – leading to final integration into the production vehicle. I provided direct support for key features, including interior and exterior vehicle lighting patterns, displays, hard keys, sound, voiceover, external LED signage, and more.

This effort led us to successfully integrate rider-focused vehicle hardware into a production vehicle – maintaining cost and supporting a convenient and compelling rider experience.

Ioniq 5 Robotaxis are now live on the Uber and Lyft networks in Las Vegas

Motional in-vehicle app mockups Motional booking app mockups Motional in-vehicle app mockups Motional in-vehicle app mockups

The service is live and scaling up!

Uber and Lyft now offer fully autonomous rides in Las Vegas with Motional Vehicles. The rollout is being closely monitored, with ambitious expansion plans ahead. Further commercial testing is underway, with updates anticipated soon.

Excited to try a ride for yourself? Explore Motional’s partnerships to find out how you can experience the thrill of riding in a cutting-edge autonomous vehicle!