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Jaguar Land Rover Experiments With “Seeing” Vehicles

Self-driving pods make ‘eye contact’ with pedestrians.

Engineers with Jaguar Land Rover in the UK are working with psychologists to understand what it will take for humans to trust self-driving vehicles. The company has equipped a number of pod-like vehicles with “eyes” that inform pedestrians that the vehicle has “seen” them.

The goal of this experiment is to figure out how much information future self-driving cars will need to share with pedestrians to ensure that people trust the technology.

Studies suggest as many as 63 percent of pedestrians and cyclists feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle. That’s why these pod-like vehicles seek out the pedestrian, appearing to ‘look’ directly at them.

Engineers, in turn, 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.

“It’s second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road,” says Pete Bennett, Future Mobility Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover. “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.”

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