Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled a driverless pod fitted with large, human-like eyes ,which it hopes will overcome one of the biggest challenges presented by autonomous vehicles.
In recent times, technology companies and car manufacturers have been struggling with how self-driving vehicles will interact with pedestrians, particularly when it comes to pedestrian crossings. Whereas human drivers can make eye contact and gesture towards pedestrians to let them know they can cross, autonomous cars cannot do this.
Jaguar Land Rover’s mobility division is conducting a study to see if its large eyes, capable of fixing upon a pedestrian and letting them know when it is safe to cross, gives people enough confidence to cross in front of a car without a human operator behind the wheel.
The automaker’s study will take place on a fabricated street scene in Coventry in the UK and involve cognitive psychologists who will analyze how people react before and after they make eye contact with the driverless pod.
“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,” Jaguar Land Rover’s future mobility research manager Pete Bennett 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 recognized is enough to improve confidence.”
According to studies cited by Jaguar Land Rover, up to 63% of pedestrians and cyclists would feel less safe with self-driving vehicles on the road.