AERV - Autonomous Emergency Response Vehicle


Group Project - 2014

frog - San Francisco


Proposed timeline - 2035

Field of Play


Proposing an ideal use case scenario for self-driving vehicles in health & wellness.



My role consisted of interaction design, team and scope guidance, researching the tech, trends, and forecasts, presentation building, and SME inteviews (in and outside frog).

The challenge was to redesign drive time. From the human vantage, the whole model of why and how we ‘drive’ is changing, with respect to ownership, identity, luxury. And tech advancements offer new opportunities, like robots, or artificial intelligence. Because of these two things, businesses want to and can adjust and connect with markets as they shift.

We did trend research, technical research, visual surveys, & first person interviews in and outside of frog, including car experts and health professionals.

The self-driving car is definitely not new. This ad envisioned it in 1957. And if you consider automated features being added to cars, then we have been making strides all along, from anti-lock brakes to intelligent cruise control.

But from a mass market POV, we are still quite a ways from ubiquitous AV’s with no steering wheel at all buzzing around our cities. The biggest hurdles are in the liability and legal arenas. This is an industry which has gotten to a standard where there’s near zero percent failure allowed or accepted. So we wanted to investigate a use case that might present a more critical need than a mobile mediation chamber or a gym on wheels.

A compelling health fact we found: Out of 100 people who get responded to remotely by EMS for cardiac arrest...

...only 5 percent walk away without permanent brain injury or death.

So the whole emergency response system is designed around THIS number…. because after 6 minutes, a person basically begins brain death.

We saw an opportunity to see how we might envision redesigning the emergency response vehicle for the new era of autonomous cars.

The AERV, or, Autonomous Emergency Response Vehicle, improves response time & allows paramedics to work more effectively to help save lives in critical situations.

The AERV focuses on improving the effectiveness of care within the vehicle both on the way to the scene and on the way to the hospital. Features: Break away medical chest Squatting capability for easy loading Interactive H.U.D windows

Features: Swing away optional driving capability

For improving response time, we were inspired by Amazon's chaotic storage system, where items are not grouped, but stocked where ever as they are received. When an order is received, they simply dispatch the closest item.

Through the analysis of 12 years of emergency response data in the city of San Francisco, the AERV system knows the emergency hot spots. These clusters represent areas where there is more likely to be an accident. The dispatch computer is constantly monitoring the hot spots as they change throughout the day and continuously updates the position of AERV units accordingly. For, example, here’s what midnight might look like.

When one vehicle gets a call, the AERV’s automatically reposition themselves responsively as new coverage “holes” are created.



It’s 3:30pm on a Saturday in San Francisco, in 2030. Fisherman’s Wharf is at peak foot traffic. The Embarcadero is a constant, seemingly infinite snake of autonomous vehicles riding bumper to bumper. Every few seconds a car veers out of the train of traffic and slows to a halt along the piers to pick up or drop off small parties of people.

Just at this moment, Jake Smith falls to his knees and clutches the left side of his chest just outside of Johnny’s Fried Fish Shack.

An onlooker, Rebecca, calls 911…

...and the dispatch immediately zeros in on Jake’s location...

...and assigns the closest AERV, which is only 8 blocks away.

In motion, the vehicle immediately communicates with the other vehicles on the road to pull to the side and halt at a 45 degree angle, like a zipper, which is time and space efficient. Pulling over is the law today, but automating the V to V communication and eliminating driver interference streamlines and ensure effectiveness.

At a glance, the medics can see crucial information, such as the response code, target direction, and arrival time. This would be a code 1, a non emergent situation.

But today, we are on a code 3.

The dispatcher can loop in communication directly from the paramedic to the caller. Instead of driving, the medic can concentrate on crucial CPR instructions to the caller, walking them through what to do.

Rebecca allows the paramedic permission to view through her connected glasses, and he walks her through a basic CPR protocol while visually assessing the scene. Near field communication to Jake’s Smart Watch confirm’s his identity, and pulls up his medical history.

Through imaging, we could envision a form of augmented instruction, helping the caller locate points on the body.

The AERV arrives on the scene. Because Jake’s location is off the street, one of the medics manually drives the vehicle onto a plaza and through a crowd, to get close to Jake’s location. The medics immediately assess, assist, and load Jake into the AERV.

On route, one medic communicates ahead to the hospital to prep the facilities, and vitals are communicated directly. If need be, a remote specialist is able to see and advise on patient status, and authorize advanced care. The other medic tends to the patient.

© 2020 Alexander Livingston