Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has fitted ‘virtual eyes’ to intelligent pods to understand how humans will trust self-driving vehicles, as research studies suggest that as many as 63% of pedestrians worry about how safe it will be to cross the road in the future.
The so-called ‘eye pods’ will help work out how much information future self-driving cars should share with users or pedestrians to ensure that people trust the technology. As part of the engineering project, JLR has enlisted the help of a team of cognitive psychologists to better understand how vehicle behavior affects human confidence in new technology. The trust trials form part of JLR’s government-supported UK Autodrive project.
The intelligent pods run autonomously on a fabricated street scene in Coventry, while the behavior of pedestrians is analyzed as they wait to cross the road. The ‘eyes’ have been devised by a team of engineers, working in JLR’s Future Mobility division. The pods seek out the pedestrian – appearing to ‘look’ directly at them – signaling to road users that it has identified them and intends to take avoiding action.
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.
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.”
The trials are part of a wider study exploring how future connected and autonomous vehicles can replicate human behavior 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.