JLR fits virtual eyes to AV prototypes

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One of the concerns with AVs is that drivers won’t make eye contact with pedestrians and cyclists to signal intent. Jaguar Land Rover has taken quite a literal approach toward solving this problem and has fitted large ‘virtual eyes’ to its driverless pods to study how humans will trust self-driving vehicles.

The car maker has enlisted the help of a team of cognitive psychologists to better understand how vehicle behaviour affects human confidence in new technology. The trust trials form part of JLR’s government-supported UK Autodrive project.

Trials include a fabricated street scene in Coventry, UK, where the pods drive around while the behaviour of pedestrians is analysed as they wait to cross the road.

The eyes are designed to seek out the pedestrian and ‘look’ at them directly, signalling that the vehicle has identified the pedestrian and can make take actions to avoid them.

Pete Bennett, future mobility research manager at JLR, 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.”

“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 recognized is enough to improve confidence.”

By Illya Verpraet

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