The ‘eyes’ have it, say researchers

Riley Riley

Worried about being hit by a driverless car?

Studies have revealed 63 per cent of pedestrians are concerned about how safe it will be to cross the road in the future.

To find out more Jaguar Land Rover has fitted ‘virtual eyes’ to intelligent pods to understand how humans will trust self-driving vehicles.

As part of the project a team of cognitive psychologists has been enlisted to better understand how vehicle behaviour affects human confidence in new technology.

The so-called ‘trust trials’ form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s government-supported UK Autodrive project.

The intelligent pods run autonomously on a fabricated street scene in Coventry, while the behaviour of pedestrians is analysed as they wait to cross the road.

Virtual Eye Pod 06
Eye contact makes a difference?

The ‘eyes’ have been devised by a team of advanced engineers, working in Jaguar Land Rover’s Future Mobility division.

The pods seek out the pedestrian and appear to ‘look’ directly at them, signalling to road users that it has identified them, and intends to take evasive action.

Engineers record the trust levels in the person before and after the pod makes eye contact to find out whether it generates sufficient confidence that it would stop for them.

Future Mobility Research Manage, Pete Bennett, said it’s second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road.

“Understanding how this translates in tomorrow’s more automated world is important,” he said.

“We want to know if it is beneficial to provide humans with information about a vehicle’s intentions or whether simply letting a pedestrian know it has been recognised is enough to improve confidence.”

The trials are part of a wider study exploring how future connected and autonomous vehicles can replicate human behaviour and reactions when driving.

As part of the study, more than 500 test subjects have been studied interacting with the self-driving pods, designed by UK Autodrive partner Aurrigo.


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