Design Engineering
Showcase

Picnic Technologies

Team
Vehicle Innovation Team
Supervisor
Dr Michel-Alexandre Cardin
Role
New Vehicle Intern
Sector
Retail and Consumer Goods

Picnic is an Amsterdam-based grocery delivery service and Netherlands’ fastest growing tech company. Since it was founded in 2015, it has been growing steadily and established itself as a part of local communities in Netherlands and Germany through its friendly service and a distinct brand.

My internship experience was great. I had the opportunity to experience automotive design process from multiple angles through working on projects across different disciplines. I was able to utilise multiple aspects of my Design Engineering knowledge to explore and develop ideas and solve problems.

 — Picnic Technologies

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

Picnic’s operation is driven by a just-in-time delivery-only model with the goal of making food shopping simple and quick, through an app-only approach and a user-centric philosophy. The experience that customers get from using Picnic’s service is inspired by the milkmen that were delivering milk in The Netherlands in the first half of the 20th century. Driving on motorised carts, they provided a personal and customised service for their customers. Picnic is aiming to bring back this personal, low customer effort service of the milkman in combination with the aspects that made supermarkets popular - large product selection and low prices - to provide a great shopping experience.

Working on an interior design concept I focused on both the underlying technology and the user-facing interaction design. Cabin interface design is a human-centred task that requires an in-depth knowledge of how users operate and what their pain points are. To gain an insight into the user’s process, I carried out interviews and in-context observations. Ergonomics, visibility and attention testing was done to validate concepts. I used sketches to communicate ideas, surface modelling to create concepts and rendering to produce visualisations. The interior design project encompasses multiple sub-projects, outcomes of which influenced the overall design. Working on these was a highly iterative process that consisted of ideation sessions, concept assessments and user validation. Through my work on the cabin technology, I improved in circuit building, programming and soldering. I also got familiar with vehicle bus protocols and regulations that guide development of vehicle components.

 — Picnic Technologies
The Dutch milkman (Credit: Nationaal Archief).
 — Picnic Technologies
Picnic runner (Credit: Picnic).

Role and Contributions

I joined the Vehicle Innovation team at the Amsterdam office as a New Vehicle Intern. Because of Picnic’s app only-approach, the vehicle is a significant part of the brand, standing out from the unassuming crowd of large delivery vans with its friendly design and unthreatening proportions. It does not intrude on the neighbourhood aesthetic but rather becomes a part of it. The design of the front bumper and headlamps resembles a friendly face and makes it very popular with children. The full glass rear-hinged doors enable the driver - the ‘modern milkman’ - to be seen from the outside and emphasise the sense of belonging to the community that they deliver in. It is only 1.4 metres wide, making it easy to park in residential areas. The cabover design enables easy handling and manoeuvring.

As Picnic is expanding it is outgrowing this current car and needs a new model that would meet the new challenges. I was mainly focused on the cabin interaction design. The outcomes of my work helped make the interaction in the cabin more streamlined, enabling the runner to execute their tasks more effectively. This will reduce the duration of each drop and enable Picnic to serve more customers in a set amount of time. The more intuitive interface that I helped create will also have a positive impact the runner’s mood which will then hopefully carry over to their attitude towards the customer, making it a better experience for them as well.

 — Picnic Technologies
The current vehicle cabin that I worked on improving (Credit: Picnic).
 — Picnic Technologies
Picnic vehicle fleet (Credit: Picnic).

Summary

To conclude, I am very happy with my internship at Picnic. It is a friendly, dynamic environment that promotes proactive approach. I felt that my judgement was valued and my solutions got implemented. I would recommend applying if you are interested in interaction design, user research or have a general interest in automotive design.

I you have any questions about my experience or Picnic in general, feel free to message me at [email protected] or my supervisor Joris at [email protected].

 — Picnic Technologies
Runner loading up totes into the cargo box (Credit: Picnic).
 — Picnic Technologies
Runner on their way to a customer’s door (Credit: Picnic).

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