This project was developed for the class UXDG 330, User Experience Studio 1: Innovation, under professor B.C. Hwang. Our assignment was to create a design solution for a world with 5g technology. Over the course of 10 weeks, my team of four decided to tackle the future of waste management, creating a more clean and efficient solution for an advanced world.

My role
  • Industrial Design Lead

  • 3D Modeler

  • 3D Animator & Renderer

  • Visual Design Coordination

  • User Personas

  • UI Collaboration

  • Ideation

  • Primary & Secondary Research

  • Problem Analysis

Problem

Every year, over 8 million tons of trash end up in our oceans.

Time Magazine

How might we…

Use 5G technology to make city-scale sanitation easier or even fully autonomous?

Solution

A product line of 5G-enabled technology that is able to autonomously compress, transport, sort, and manage waste within a city layout with minimal maintenance

and crew.

Auto-Bin

 

These robotic, autonomous trash cans are the start of the 5G waste management process. 

The body is designed to be wide enough to fit larger items, such as pizza boxes, alongside the rest of the household waste. The bin then internally compresses, reducing space taken up by the waste, after locking to ensure no accidents occur.

The bin collects analytics to improve the overall quality of the waste management service, such as how frequently it requires compression and how often it becomes full; allowing the schedule of trash pickup to change according to the needs of the neighborhood.

The bin then raises itself and becomes a quadruped similar to Boston Dynamics' SpotMini. The bin walks itself to the garbage truck, putting less physical strain on the human members of the household.

Low-Maintenance Garbage Truck

This garbage truck is designed to be semi-autonomous and allows for a one-to-two man crew to remain onboard to take control in the case of small, complicated roads and turns.

The truck releases a signal when it drives into a neighborhood that alerts the trash bins to walk out and be emptied. As the truck remains stationary, the noise and smell of modern trash trucks driving through narrow roads in the early morning is eliminated.

Autonomous Waste Management Facility

After the waste is transported to the sorting facility, it travels along a conveyer belt through many different sensors. Infrared scanning and spectrography allows the facility to sort the waste between recyclable materials, compostable waste, and non-compostable waste.

Mechanical arms then do the physical sorting and the waste goes through its appropriate refining process. This removes human laborers from a dangerous work environment who still sort through waste by hand today.

The long-term impact of proper waste management include cleaner cities and less waste ending up in our oceans- by accident or otherwise.

User Interface

The interface is designed as an employee portal for the small crew assigned to the truck. From their tablet, the crew can quickly and easily diagnose physical issues or malfunctions in the vehicle.

The interface is also a place for the crew to receive information pertinent to their daily jobs. When a household has a unique item for waste pickup, such as a disposed mattress, the crew is alerted ahead of time of the object and address and can prepare accordingly.

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Process

Personas

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User Journey Maps

For our user journey maps we took a road that was a little unconventional. Because our service is autonomous, we decided to depict the journey of waste as it travels through the system.

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Research

In order to tackle such a large problem as waste management, my team and I underwent a great deal of research; this includes multiple surveys, cultural probes, interviews, and more.

Surveys

Our first survey was to gain a general insight as to how trash is perceived and managed in day-to-day life. This survey covered ideologies, waste management habits within certain living situations, and the participant's familiarity with current waste management procedures and policies where they live. Shockingly, we found that 52% of participants were not taught about recycling growing up.

Our second survey was based around the aesthetic properties of waste. Participants were asked to rate certain trash cans and trucks on a scale of negative to positive emotions. Many people personified the forms, calling older plastic models "mean" and certain trucks "threatening," while sleeker, modern designs were more often associated with terms like "friendly."

In the end, we found that most people preferred trashcans to be sleek with a lid and a foot pedal, but were opposed to trucks looking too "futuristic" or "dystopian," and preferred familiar forms. These findings helped to inform our design decisions moving forward.

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Cultural Probe

Earth Day

We were lucky enough that Earth Day fell within our research phase of the project, and we set up a cultural probe at the major Earth Day event in a main park in Savannah. 

We asked participants to sort garbage themselves, and then asked them how much they thought they knew about waste management. Many people who attended this event were already fairly conscious about waste management and production and were fairly confident in their own knowledge. However, we did manage to provide insights to these individuals by asking them trickier questions; such as what you do with objects like shoes or mattresses.

Cultural Probe

In-home Prototype

After our form perception survey, we designed and built a trash can prototype out of foam core. The can consisted of a sleek, smooth design, a lid with a foot petal, and a separate compartment for glass and other recyclable materials.

We placed the bin in a participant's home for a week to gain his insights as to whether or not the bin's structure helped him make positive conscious decisions about his personal waste management. 

In the end, the participant stated that having the trash can helped him keep his waste and recycling together but clearly organized and separated better than other trash cans.

Interviews

We also completed numerous interviews with people from all walks of life, with a range of knowledge about the lifecycle of waste.

We spoke to volunteer organizations who focus on cleaning beaches and public spaces to gain their insights as to why so much waste ends up in the open.

 

We spoke to software and mechanical engineers to define the possibilities of our potential solutions. 

We also spoke to landfill employees who talked to us about why trash compaction is so desired today, as well as Savannah's Waste Management (WM) lead who informed us on the current process.

In the end, every one of the interviews we conducted helped us in some way to design our new waste management system.

Process Photos

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© 2019 by Mackinzi Blank.