Occupants of driverless cars will be able to communicate with others using roof-mounted emoji displays, according to plans by a Silicon Valley company.
Drive.ai, a company which aims to retrofit cars with autonomous tech, will also be testing its emoji displays in California, after the company was approved to test on its roads earlier this year, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The display has both front and rear screens allowing simultaneous communication to multiple road users; for example, when stopped at a pedestrian crossing, the car can indicate to pedestrians that it is allowing them to cross, while showing road users behind the car that the reason it has stopped.
Car-to-car communication is a hot topic for developers of autonomous car technology, as the cars need to be able to pinpoint each other and indicate the car’s intended actions to make the other cars aware of them.
Drive.ai’s aim with the emoji display is for the people inside those cars to communicate with one another through emojis, with a range of facial expressions and other emoji-based messages; revolutionising communication between road users.
The company aimed harsh criticism at the humble car horn: "Cars’ communication features, from blinkers to the horn, have not been reimagined in decades. There’s an incredible opportunity to improve this communication, especially in the case of self-driving cars where there is no human driver to indicate with hand gestures or facial signals. The horn, for example, is one of the worst designed features in the car today. It’s one sound/tone, and you can’t tell who it’s targeted at or what the intention is -- it could be anything from a polite nudge to an angry exclamation."