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Virtual eyes make contact with pedestrians

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

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Trust levels are recorded before and after the pod makes eye contact
Trust levels are recorded before and after the pod makes eye contact

Jaguar Land Rover has fitted virtual eyes to intelligent pods to better understand how humans will trust self-driving vehicles.

 

The pods are helping the company to explore how much information future self-driving cars should share with users or pedestrians to ensure that people trust the technology.

 

The trials form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s government-supported UK Autodrive project and it has also enlisted the help of a team of cognitive psychologists to better understand how vehicle behaviour affects human confidence in new technology.

 

Pods signal to road users

 

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. 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 -- appearing to ‘look’ directly at them -- signalling to road users that it has identified them and intends to take avoiding action.

“We want to know if it is beneficial to provide humans with information about a vehicle’s intentions"

Engineers record 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. A study by not-for-profit AAA, which provides its members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive services and information, suggest as many as 63 per cent of pedestrians and cyclists say they’d feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle.

 

Safety remains the number one priority as Jaguar Land Rover invests in self-driving technology, becoming automotive leaders in autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility. The trial is aligned with the brand’s long-term strategic goals: to make cars safer, free up people’s valuable time and improve mobility for everyone.

 

The new automated world

 

“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,” said Pete Bennett, future mobility research manager at Jaguar Land Rover.

 

He added: “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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