Key Echo

Autonomous City Concept for FCA

Future floating city navigable by a system of autonomous transportation and augmented reality interfaces.


This project was for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, a traditional car company that wanted us to design the future of cities and autonomous transportation. Key Echo was inspired by current climate change trends and the rising of sea levels.


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles yet to have autonomous vehicles, whereas other automobile companies already are building cars with autonomous system. To be a differentiate in the competition and to have a lead, FCA has to dive into more comprehensive market.


Through research, we learned that sea level keep rises and major coastal cities like New York and Miami may suffer from submergence in 2090. With this notion, there is an opportunity to move away from traditional car and think about applying autonomous system into the city itself and to different types of vehicles that can be used on-land and on-water.


In year 2090, Key Echo will be a floating city off the new coast of once what was Miami, Florida.  Key Echo is navigable by a system of autonomous transportation and augmented reality interfaces.

Timeline : Jan 2017 - May 2017
Team : Kate Martin,
                 Maggie Banks
My Role : Product Designer
  • Designed and created the Key Echo City
  • Led Research Process

Product Overview

About Key Echo

Key Echo Sea City Districts

Key Echo has four districts:
- "Holiday" for tourisms and visitors
- "Haven" for families and residential homes
- "Enterprise" for business and downtown
- "Oasis" for arts and culture

The four districts are connected by a community center. Key Echo accommodates growth through a replicable and modular model. The city is equipped with autonomous technology to move towards shore in case of severe weather.

Using Key Echo Interface to utilize Key Echo Transit Services

Forecasting the use of AR/VR

We currently call Uber/Lyft with our smartphones. But smartphones only came out 10 years ago and we don't envision we would be using hand-held devices in 2090 due to our advancement in technology. Key echo interface is used through ubiquitous contact lens devices with gestural controls to use transit services available in and out of Key Echo.

Riding Different Types of Key Echo Transits Services

Autonomous Land Transit:
Fiat Parrot and Fiat Parallel

Fiat Parallel and Parrot are two modes of transportation available on Key Echo. Fiat Parallel is designed for one to two riders and navigates its riders through the city.  The Fiat Parrot holds up to six passengers and has an open cabin. Both Fiat vehicles are called through the FCA augmented reality interface.

Calling and riding
a Fiat Parallel using
Key Echo Interface

This interface is used with contact lens augmented reality technology. To interact with the interface you simply use your hand to control the screen. In this video you can see someone who is calling a Fiat Parallel to take them to a destination on Key Echo.

Autonomous Shore Transit:
Chrysler Reflect

Key Echo Chrysler water craft transports citizens from the sea city to the new shore line of Miami. The Chrysler Reflect picks up passengers at stations on each district. The reflect schedules and station locations are available on the FCA interface.

Riding on Chrysler Reflect using Key Echo Interface

In this video you can see an experience of someone who commutes to the shore using a Chrysler Reflect autonomous boat.

Autonomous Water Transit:
Jeep Reverb Leisure and
Jeep Reverb Direct Route

The Jeep water crafts offer a direct and leisure service. Direct is for those who are focused on getting from point A to point B. Leisure Reverbs are for people that want to enjoy the natural scenery of Key Echo. Reverbs are water crafts that take you around Key Echo on the water or to other destinations on the water.

Calling and riding on
Jeep Reverb Leisure
using Key Echo Interface

In this video you can see an experience of a group of people using the FCA interface to call a jeep reverb for leisure. You can see the passengers are able to share their personal vision and interface onto the water craft windshield.

How different transits will be utilized

Audience of Key Echo and its transits

Journalist, Married

He visited to Oasis District write about the dynamic culture of people from various background

Nurse, Mother of 2

Her family lives in the Haven District and frequently commutes to in-land for work

Freelance Architect, Single

He is a visitor to Key Echo to experience leisure and have fun. He is currently staying at Holiday District

Why Key Echo and Transit Services?

An opportunity for FCA to be the leader of autonomous system

It is hard for current FCA to win against other automobile and industrial companies that had a head start. FCA should invest in different types of vehicles, including amphibious and water-crafts. Investing in city-wide autonomous system would make FCA the lead

Moving from buying to service

Through research, we envision that more and more people would not buy cars and would have services. With fully autonomous system, there is no need for people to buy cars

Our Process

Understanding the Future Environment

Water level will rise

The sea level in major coastal cities in the US is rising slowly each year and cities may suffer from submergence in the future.

Decreasing need
to buy cars

When autonomous vehicles are fully adapted, there is no need to buy cars since people can call a vehicle whenever they need. We envision there would be similar services like Uber/Lyft

Infrastructures need
time to be replaced

Buildings and roads do not change drastically within a century. We can still see buildings that is more than 100 years old in many of the cities. It is not easy

Wearable technology using voice, AR and VR

We envision that what we do with our current smart phones can be done with simple bracelets, lens, or other wearable technology without physical screens

Pain points of fully adopted Autonomous System

People want to have control

When people ride a motor cycle or a bike, they don't expect to be chauffeured. There are cases when people don't want to have control of exactly they are going instead of order the final destination to change.

Autonomous system cannot be trusted

We hear about accidents from Tesla and Uber and get scared. The system is yet to be perfectly trustworthy, but even cars today have problems.


We collected responses from surveys,  research findings from the expert interview and synthesized the information into an affinity diagram format.

Key Insights:

Identifying Design Goals

Comprehensive Interface to utilize Key Echo Transits

Enable users to call various types of transit services to deliver satisfying experience, since there are many different types of vehicles.

Have balance between
control vs controlled

In some cases like moving around within the city, it is inconvenient for users to set destination every time. We wanted users to take control of the vehicle when they are in need.

Get the right type of vehicles for differnt use

Enable users to get the right type of vehicles for different purposes. This would let users to get the right service they want without feeling inconvenient.


We initially drew out a concept of what autonomous city can do
Vehicles (amphibious, land, or water transit options) that
meet the everyday needs of the public and of individuals
Amphibious vehicles are universal along U.S. coastal
states; travel is ubiquitous (e.g., for leisure, commuting,
to access one’s living space)
Traveling nationwide occurs on a regular basis, since remote work requires visiting the office and/or client sites; travel is also done for leisure
Individuals own few physical posessions but have access
to all of the region’s resources, which include public transit
and on-call vehicles
We drew out different components of the city and where the transits services will be used

Design Decisions for Key Echo

Moving from owning vehicles to providing vehicle services

Currently, owning a car is like having freedom. But more and more people use services like Zipcar, Turo and Uber to commute. Owning a car could later be more of a burden, when you can just call for a car in couple of minutes that will take you to wherever you want.

"Once you finish your commute, what use does your autonomous car have? It will take up space if you just park it."

Provide semi-autonomous vehicle system

We envisioned that there are cases that users want to take over the vehicle to move around the city. Imagine your bike can only be used in fully autonomous mode. It would be annoying to set your destination every time once you chose to stop to get a drink.

“I often go places that public transportation does not
reach/service regularly.”

Apply gesture control and AR technology

10 years ago, we did not have a smart phone. We did not envision we would not click on a screen to use services like Uber/Lyft.

Check out my other projects!


Project Melo


About Key Echo