Design Sprint: Opportunities for Autonomous Vehicles in Municipal Services


Project Challenge:

In September of 2018, Ford Motor Company and Michigan Ross School of Business invited participants of the Future of Mobility Conference to respond to the following prompt: How might Ford position itself to add value to the customer journey in the AV moving goods space?

Teammates: Ema Yamamoto, Rohan Sriram, and Albert Yu.

Our Process:


Between receiving the prompt and presenting at the conference, we had one week to propose a potential future.

Our first consensus as a team was to approach this problem from a social standpoint: weary of the environmental impacts of increasing convenience, we decided to focus on the “goods” that move through municipal services. Can utilities be re-framed as a good? What about the physical equipment in ambulances? Ultimately, we settled on the movement of waste through municipal sanitation services. In other words, trash.

From there, we delved into the design research process: we observed neighbors taking their trash to the curb, then watched garbage trucks move through their routes, dumping trash into vehicles. Ema, who had previously worked for the City of Philadelphia, collected interviews from sanitation workers and city officials.

Notes from our team’s re-framing and scoping session.

Notes from our team’s re-framing and scoping session.

After pooling and synthesizing our collective insights from the field, we re-framed the prompt and scoped out our solution. From there, we drafted a vision, Go-To-Market strategy, and market analysis to present at the conference. Our proposal, “Moving Goods for Public Good,” won a speaking prize, as well as the admiration of the more socially-minded judges on the panel. After the conference, we put our thoughts down at to continue the conversation.