Driver Awareness Research Vehicle

In 2014, while at Infosys, I partnered with Toyota on the Driver Awareness Research Vehicle (DARV) project. 

In an age of ever-increasing in-car entertainment and other distractions, the DARV car aimed to simplify the information fed to the driver. The objective was to keep the driver focused on the road without sacrificing any of the benefits offered by sophisticated on-board information systems.


We were a small team of 1 designer, 2 developers and a project manager. I designed the navigation on head unit display for the driver with the “lock-in” feature. I also designed the passenger tablet app that could be used to send routes to the driver.


When I first started this project, I had a kickoff meeting with the client and then deep dived into the client’s specification document. To ensure that everyone was on the same page, I created a storyboard to depict the user journey in a DARV. I found it to be useful in validating the client’s requirements and bringing the concept to life in a way that anyone in the team could grasp and engage with.

Project storyboard
DARV Storyboard

In an effort to reduce driver distraction I used conditioning models to dissuade the driver from using the infotainment display while driving over 15mph. This was designed by locking the interface for the driver. At the same time, the front seat passenger should be able to interact with the display. This was solved by tracking the driver and passenger’s movements through a Kinect device fitted in the car. The system disabled dashboard controls only for the driver while driving but allowed a passenger to interact with it.

‍Wireframe - Head unit display default view
‍Wireframe - Driver driving over 15mph

I designed the user flow, wireframes and the interface for the head unit display. I also introduced an auto hide feature on the navigation page that prevented any element, when not in use, from blocking the map. For example, the keyboard and search bar would hide if there was no interaction for 20 seconds, giving the driver a better view of the map at all times.

Wireframe - Head unit display search feature

There were many challenges in designing a distraction free interface for the head unit display. The interface needed to be as easy to read as possible with large fonts and good contrast. I had to ensure that the navigation buttons were accessible to the driver. The size of touch areas had to be big enough, and there needed to be sufficient space between different elements to avoid unintended taps.

Wireframe - Passenger sends updated route to driver using the passenger tablet

The UI of the passenger tablet app was designed with a similar interface as that of the head unit display for consistency, ease of use and to avoid a learning curve. 

This project was showcased at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado and the Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

To view the final interface, watch the demo video


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