A fully autonomous self-driving car doesn’t really need a steering wheel, or a rearview mirror, or even windows to get where it’s going. But the first models are still likely to have them.
In the coming years and decades, as the public decides how to feel about autonomous cars, the way that self-driving vehicles appear will be arguably as important as how they function. And people, Americans in particular, have clearly defined expectations about what cars ought to look like.
“When we’re looking at new devices, you could make them anything, right? Any shape, any form,” said Robert Brunner, the industrial designer who worked for many years at Apple and now runs his own design studio. “But we’re also trying to get people to relate to and understand the technology.”