A number of different companies are working on autonomous vehicles, but only a handful have shown lighting systems designed to communicate with pedestrians and other road users.
That group is expanding today as Hyundai MOBIS has introduced its new Communication Lighting concept at CES. Essentially a futuristic coupe, the streamlined autonomous vehicle has been equipped with an assortment of displays and lights that communicate its intentions.
The headlights are particularly interesting as the company says they can project a “bright red warning symbol” in front of pedestrians to indicate it is unsafe to move in front of the vehicle. When the vehicle comes to a stop, the headlights project a crosswalk symbol onto the ground to indicate that it is safe to proceed.
Pedestrians can be detected more than 450 feet (137 meters) away and the vehicle will even show them what it intends to do next. As Hyundai MOBIS explained, “LED boards” show a directional arrow indicating which way the vehicle intends to move. The concept will also start a countdown to indicate how much longer until it starts moving. The latter feature mimics crossing signs which countdown how long people have to wait to cross the street.
Besides the aforementioned features, the concept has an “Indicating Lighting Zone” which informs people that it is operating in autonomous driving mode. The concept also uses sounds and other LEDs in an effort to improve road safety.
Since the Communication Lighting system focuses on using intelligent lighting technology, Hyundai MOBIS says the technology could be rolled out in a relatively quick and cost effective manner. Of course, it would require automakers to incorporate the lighting technologies into the design of their vehicles.
According Hyundai MOBIS’ director of lamp engineering, Mirco Goetz, “Light has been used as a conduit for communication among vehicles and pedestrians for almost as long as the automobile has existed, so we are excited to lead the evolution of this technology to save lives and offer peace of mind to all that use the road.”