One of the main concerns with autonomous vehicles has been how they communicate with pedestrians to ensure safety at pedestrian crossings, but Jaguar Land Rover may have found an easy “universal” solution.
The company points to UK studies that have shown that as much as 41% of drivers and pedestrians are concerned about sharing the road with autonomous vehicles, especially in light of recent crashes involving autonomous vehicles, resulting in property damage and even a fatality.
JLR engineers developed technology that projects a series of bars ahead of the vehicle to visually indicate if the vehicle is accelerating, decelerating or turning. This way, it avoids the language obstacles of some other proposed pedestrian-interaction systems.
Tested on autonomous pods in a controlled environment, the technology projects a series of bars with adjustable spacing on the road ahead of the vehicle. When the vehicle is slowing to a stop, the space between the bars lessens; when the vehicle is accelerating, the space between the bars lengthens; and when the vehicle is turning, the bars fan out right or left. The company envisions other applications such as obstacle detection and journey updates.
The testing also included a set of “virtual eyes” to judge whether eye-contact between pedestrian and vehicle improved the trust score allotted by pedestrians.
“The trials are about understanding how much information a self-driving vehicle should share with a pedestrian to gain their trust,” explained Pete Bennett, Future Mobility Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover. “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. This pioneering research is forming the basis of ongoing development into how self-driving cars will interact with people in the future.”
In vehicles such as the Jaguar F-Pace and Range Rover Velar, JLR already markets a suite of advanced driving aids, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot assist and intelligent speed limiter, all of which play important roles in autonomous driving systems.