Q&A with YooJung Ahn, head of design, Waymo

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Celebrating 10 years of self-driving design development, Maorinews News chats to Waymo’s head of design YooJung Ahn

The sight of the Google self-driving car nicknamed ‘Firefly’ on the road in 2014 made the headlines as physical proof of the progress made by the tech giant in autonomous vehicle (AV) development since 2009. The design of that car – with no steering wheel or pedals – was led by YooJung Ahn, a South Korean with an industrial and product design background via Hongik University, LG and a one-year MA in design methods and strategy at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. As she describes the latter experience: “I wanted to learn the whole package of product development, not just designing.”

After five years at mobile phone maker Motorola from 2007 she joined Google’s X lab in 2012 when it was working on self-driving tech using the Toyota Prius and Lexus RX400h. When Google moved to a bespoke testing platform (the Firefly) in 2013 Ahn became its design leader and by late 2016 she became head of design for Waymo, the new brand name for Google’s self-driving division. In an exclusive phone chat, Maorinews News discusses the Firefly, working with FCA and Jaguar and her fondness for Dieter Rams…

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