Gilles: Autonomous Tech Needs to Be Attractive—or Invisible

9. February 2017

Emerging driver assist and fully autonomous systems should be visually appealing—or at least not unattractive—to help the technology catch on with consumers, asserts Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV design chief Ralph Gilles.

Next-generation models need to put such technology in a “much more attractive package,” Gilles said during a keynote address at this week’s Chicago auto show. To highlight how not to introduce advanced tech features, Gilles showed images of clunky roof-mounted sensors used in prototype self-driving cars.

He points to electric vehicles as an example of how designers have embraced new technology. Eliminating the engine, for example, provides greater packaging flexibility that allows designers to move an EV’s wheels farther into a car's corners.

Carmakers also must work together more often and develop new partners to shape consumer awareness, improve acceptance and build a supporting infrastructure for future mobility systems, Gilles says. Launching new technologies and services will require “unforeseen collaboration,” he notes, with multiple industries joining together to “get things done.”