As the world builds toward autonomous driving, Lexus continues to keep the focus on what inspires the brand—people. Lexus partnered with the TED Fellows program, a global multidisciplinary group of thought leaders, to develop new designs for autonomous vehicles that prioritize people over technology.  TED Senior Fellows neuroscientist Greg Gage and artist Sarah Sandman debuted their designs for human-centric autonomous vehicles in an exclusive virtual event today, and two short films spotlighting their ideas are live now:  “Predicting Human Needs with Neuroscientist Greg Gage” and “Building Community with Artist Sarah Sandman.” In an interactive discovery session, TED Senior Fellow Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule explored how inspiration can be found in sound.

As a neuroscientist and engineer, TED Senior Fellow Greg Gage believes autonomous vehicles and long commutes make for the perfect environment for neurotechnology to create a “brain-car” interface that allows the automobile to be integrated directly into how the driver feels. By recording a range of human signals, from human EKG to face microgestures, Gage envisions that Lexus could create a profile of a person’s mood and use it to change the ambience of the car. Sleepy? The car will change the lights and seating position. Relaxed? The car will cue up a chill playlist. Stressed? The radio is silenced and lights up. If current cars can monitor engine temperature, oil pressure and engine speed, then a human-inspired car could monitor the human and respond accordingly.

As an artist and designer, TED Senior Fellow Sarah Sandman foresees a future where people are even more buried in their digital devices, and the simple gesture of waving to a pedestrian is lost. With community in mind, Sandman has envisioned a vehicle that connects the inside to the outside world with 360-windows, fully rotational seats, a speaker system for interaction with cyclists or pedestrians, and even a chalk-writing system to leave custom art or messages in the street. To increase quality time with passengers, the interior would mimic a cozy cafe with a digital fireplace, pillows and a terrarium-like ceiling. Sandman also proposes a cooperative ownership model that increases affordability and makes for a more inclusive, meaningful future.