case study

Boring's
LA Loop

Imagining the future of accessible public transit in LA with Elon Musk's Boring Company bringing high speed transit to everyone for cheap. As with most stories like this, it all begins with an eccentric billionaire. In December of 2016, Elon Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel company with a puntastically great name. He set out to solve a problem that effects everyone. Transit in large cities is a problem. Commute times can last up to 2 hours one way in some cases. 

An Existential Problem

Traffic poses both a human and environmental problem. With the growth of cities, congestion has become unavoidable. People are packed closer and closer into city centers because they want to cut down on commuting. With a massive amount of people all leaving for work at the same time, we end up with "Rush Hour". This results in people wasting large portions of their day sitting in their cars. Not only are these people wasting time, but their idling cars are also causing a large environmental impact. But if we could get across a massive city like LA in a matter of minutes, reliably, we could cut down on congestion and pollution – and maybe even eliminate the concept of rush hour.

Imagining The Future

Traffic poses both a human and environmental problem. With the growth of cities, congestion has become unavoidable. People are packed closer and closer into city centers because they want to cut down on commuting. With a massive amount of people all leaving for work at the same time, we end up with "Rush Hour". This results in people wasting large portions of their day sitting in their cars. Not only are these people wasting time, but their idling cars are also causing a large environmental impact. But if we could get across a massive city like LA in a matter of minutes, reliably, we could cut down on congestion and pollution – and maybe even eliminate the concept of rush hour.

The User's Flow

With each person needing a different outcome, the flow needed to be mapped out to ensure we were showing the right screens to the right people. Using Flow, I mapped out the flow for each person, realizing that while the data may be a little different for each person the basic screens were the same.

Diversifying Transit

I imagined the different ways we could leverage this system to maximize usage and profitability. With the cost of a ride being "less than a bus ticket", I knew that it was akin to a bus or subway, with many people getting on, but also like Uber Pool where there are several stops along the way, dropping people off as you continue down the path. Taking the subway metaphor a bit further, there could be Express cars that bypass this stop and go flow for more direct trips to city hubs and attractions, like a sporting center. Swinging the other direction, I thought there could be a way to call a smaller car on demand to come and pick you up and take you directly to your destination, without taking on more passengers. To accommodate the larger public, this option would be disabled in the event of heavy demand.

Different Tiers for Different Needs

Express Lines: Lines that take you from one large hub to another. No stopping along the way, direct service.
LA Pool: Get on and get off wherever you want, takes longer but is the cheapest option.
LA Direct: The most expensive option; this allows you to hop on a dedicated car and zip across the city in minutes, dropping you off at your destination. This feature would be disabled during high traffic and demand times and these cars could be co-opted into the Express and Pool lanes when needed.
LA Drive: This takes your car and turns it into a transport. More on this below.

Imagining The Future

Transporting cars and people takes the paradigms we've been exploring and adds a unique approach to it. Now you have to be able to use this app while driving, with a different way to get into the system than the normal station model. The approach here would be similar to a google maps implementation, where we combine both on street navigation to a nearby spot, and initiating the transport to another spot in the city. 

One element I hadn't yet seen in the videos was the need for a light indicator on the parking spots to let people know when to pull forward onto and off of the platform. This indicator could be implemented in the app, physically on the parking structure itself, or, ideally, on both.

LA Drive would need to be usable on the go. Say you're driving somewhere, and you realize traffic is going to be terrible. You can drive there, but you'll have to wait and it could take a long time. For something like $10, you could drive to the nearest platform, be lowered down and shot off across town. This would disincentive everyone from doing this and incentivize using the public system, as it is cheaper, but also allows you the option while subsidizing the cost for everyone else. This cost could fluctuate depending on how far you want to transport your car, while keeping the cost below the cost of something like an Uber.

Another interesting feature I have begun thinking about but haven't yet started designing is integrating this with self driving cars. The initial thinking would be giving your car the destination and it would automatically choose the fastest route for you, with the option for you to pay the extra fee to use the city's high speed network.

A Study In Motion

This whole project actually came out of a work initiative. I wanted to explore all of the different prototyping and design tools out there and codify the best tools for each job. Motion design is an unavoidable element in my industry, and the static comps from Sketch just aren't cutting it anymore, so I set out to test each one with a similar design to find the best and worst of each. 

I didn't just want to animate any old design though. I wanted to use this opportunity to explore some more app design. After mocking up a shopping app and a travel app I abandoned them for this project. In the coming weeks I'll be going through InVision Studio, Webflow, Sketch, After Effects, and Adobe XD and animating portions of this application. In the end I hope to have a better understanding of when to use certain apps to accomplish the desired animations and motion studies. As those get completed, I will post them here.