Will Google’s self-driving car come with Corinthian leather bucket seats, fuzzy upholstery, or moon roofs?
It’s still early, as the robo-cars are currently just prototypes, but Google is already hard at work trying to answer some of those questions, judging by a recent job posting.
The company is seeking an Automotive Interiors Engineering Lead who can weigh in on industrial design concepts and define all the car’s “interior systems.”
Among the key skills and qualifications sought are “product development experience covering instrument panels, hard moldings, soft moldings, seating and interior lighting from program concept through to product launch within the transportation industry.”
“You will be working with Industrial Design and the engineering teams to establish interior themes and define design criteria for vehicle interior systems,” the posting reads.
Asset or liability?
The job posting provides an important clue about Google’s vision for self-driving cars, which are currently being developed within the Google X subsidiary of the Alphabet parent company.
Google has repeatedly suggested that it is not interested in manufacturing a self-driving car on its own, and that it will likely partner with an automaker when it comes time to produce the robo-cars. But the company is clearly not content to simply focus on the behind-the-scenes technology that powers the vehicle.
Google is taking a hands-on approach on the car’s look and feel, both in terms of the exterior design as well as on the inside.
Given that self-driving cars likely won’t feature steering wheels, accelerator pedals, and other traditional car features, it’s understandable that a lot of thought should go into the design of the car.
But design has never been Google’s forte for any kind of products. And when it comes to cars, there are companies that have more than a century of experience about consumer preferences.
If self-driving cars are going to catch on with consumers, the technology and the aesthetics will need to be perfect. What remains to be seen is whether Google’s involvement in the latter will prove to be a benefit or a liability.
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