The clever boffins at Jaguar Land Rover have come up with a way of projecting the direction of travel onto the road ahead of self-driving vehicles, to tell other road users what it is going to do next.

These projections, tested on autonomous pods developed by Aurrigo, feature a series of lines or bars with adjustable spacing.

The spaces between the bars decrease as the pod prepares to brake before fully closing at a stop.

As the pod accelerates again, the spacing between the lines extends once more.

In the approach to a turn, the bars fan out left or right to indicate the direction of travel.

Trials were set up by a team of advanced engineers, working in Jaguar Land Rover’s Future Mobility division.

They were supported by cognitive psychologists, after studies showed 41 percent of drivers and pedestrians were worried about sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.

The innovative system has been tested on a fabricated street scene at a Coventry facility with engineers recording trust levels reported by pedestrians both with and without projections.

The trust trial program also included fitting of ‘virtual eyes’ to the intelligent pods in 2018 to see if making eye contact improved trust in the technology.

Pete Bennett, Future Mobility Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said the trials are about understanding how much information a self-driving vehicle should share with a pedestrian to gain their trust.

“Just like any new technology, humans have to learn to trust it, and when it comes to autonomous vehicles, pedestrians must have confidence they can cross the road safely,” he said.

Safety remains the priority as Jaguar Land Rover invests in self-driving technology, becoming automotive leaders in autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility.

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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