Toyota Mobility Challenge

I had a fun time today participating in a one-day design workshop at the Berkeley Jacob Institute of Design. The challenge was to create a solution for an existing mobility/transportation problem. I was fortunate to work with a group of diverse teammates and together we created Pineapple Express, a reimagined public bus that helps passengers feel more comfortable on their daily commute.

I really enjoyed working with my diverse team. We had Marie from Hamburg University studying Sustainability, Yi Lin from UC Berkeley studying Business Administration, and Elle from California College of the Arts studying Interaction Design, and me (good old me :). Everyone brought a different perspective to the problem, and the result was that, instead of “Let’s make an app and save the world!”, we went futuristic and wild.

Here is our process:


Build a Knowledge Wall→ Create a Persona (User Journey + Empathy Map)→ Build Understanding of User Needs + Insights

Molly is a busy college student living in San Francisco and attends UC Berkeley. Her one-way commute is one hour long. Molly current feels stressed out on her commute: she can neither relax by having some quiet time nor by socializing with other people. 


Synthesize Findings + Create “How Might We” Questions

After discussing many different HMW questions, we decided on this one:

How might we design a better way for Molly to personalize her physical and social distance from other passengers?


Brainstorm → Choose Top Idea

Our team had a lot of fun with the brainstorming session. We decided to go futuristic and envision a new bus that would deliver personalizable commute experience. We named this bus Pineapple Express.


Create Rapid Prototype → Received Feedback from Toyota Experts → Iterate

Pineapple Express is comprised of a chain of two types of cars – private cars and social cars. In private cars, seats and décor are designed to be quiet and comfy; social cars seats and décor encourage social interaction; social cars also have a workout station.

Molly can choose to sit in either a private car or a social car based on her mood and get the comfortable physical and social distance she needs from others.



Molly’s Needs
Study on bus
Socialize with other riders

Pineapple Express
Private Car
Social Car
Exercise Area in Social Car

In addition, Pineapple Express would be equipped with solar panels to reduce carbon emission.





Mobility experts from Toyota liked our idea! The shortcoming of our idea, however, is its cost of implementation. For the purpose of this workshop, we made the conscious decision to focus on features rather than costs due to the time constraint. A future iteration of our idea could take some of the more cost effective features and develop business models for commercialization. Interested in getting a monthly membership for the BART fitness club? 


This experience gave me more practice in working with a multi-disciplinary team, and it once again confirmed my belief in diversity. I wouldn’t have come up with our final idea from my single biased point of view. It took the balance of many perspectives to achieve that. Sometimes working in a diverse team can be a little scary when you are driven out of your comfort zone and unsure of where things are going. But I have learned to ride the uncertainty and have fun with it. Somehow you always end up hitting some cool idea somewhere along the way. I love the adventurer’s thrill that comes with such teamwork.  

Who can resist it when there's Play-Doh around... Team mascot :)