Virtual eyes make 'eye contact' with pedestrians to let them know it is safe to cross, with pedestrian behaviour monitored

Jaguar Land Rover’s future mobility division has installed 'eyes' on driverless pods in a new set of research into people’s behaviour around self-driving cars. 

The eyes, which are not sensors but a visual representation of the car’s awareness of obstacles, fix upon the pedestrian and signal when it is safe for them to cross

The study aims to find out if the eyes make people confident enough to walk out in front of the pod, rather than fearing the pod's sensors would fail to spot them and put them at risk.

Cognitive psychologists will analyse people’s behaviour at the side of the road before and after the eyes of the pedestrian and the pod meet. It’s part of the government-supported UK Autodrive project, with which several mainstream manufacturers are associated.

Studies cited by JLR suggest that up to 63% of pedestrians and cyclists would feel less safe with self-driving vehicles on the road. “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,” said Pete Bennett, future mobility research manager at JLR.

“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 recognised is enough to improve confidence.”

By replicating human behaviour and elements of body language that pedestrians can relate to in the cars, JLR hopes that the project can improve the public’s trust in autonomous vehicles, since trust is seen as one of the technology’s main obstacles to overcome. 

Other schemes of this type have suggested text panels on the front of cars or 'facial expressions' to display messages to other road users about the car’s intentions, while one company proposed a more divisive emoji display

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Jaguar's first attempt at a compact exec saloon is good - very good. But can the XE hold off the BMW 3 Series and Alfa Romeo Guilia to retain its crown?

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Volkswagen’s Sedric driverless pod concept also had cartoon-style eyes, although these are two-dimensional and incapable of making direct 'eye contact' with other road users. 

Read more: 

Autonomous cars with emoji displays in the pipeline

The autonomous car that smiles at pedestrians

UK’s largest autonomous car trial moves onto public roads

Join the debate

Comments
7

28 August 2018

But, first impression is that it’s a bit spooky. How about illuminating the word “SAFE” when the pod has clocked a hazard and stopped moving?

Or would that suggest that it’s not safe when it’s moving?

Robbo

Aussie Rob - a view from down under

28 August 2018

Aren't flashed headlights or even - and I realise this is desperately old-fashioned - a wave from the driver sufficient??

28 August 2018
Andrew Lee wrote:

Aren't flashed headlights or even - and I realise this is desperately old-fashioned - a wave from the driver sufficient??

It's not desperately old fashioned to suggest the driver of a driverless vehicle could wave, it's insane.

28 August 2018
I'd love to see the grant application.

28 August 2018

Never mind big eyes, how about a giant wagging finger and a celeb voice that shouts at people who walk across the road while talking on their phone? The roads are going to look like Disney's Cars brought to life.

28 August 2018

What does it do if there is multiple pedestrians from opposite directions?

I am presuming it goes all cross eyed

28 August 2018

“Virtual eyes make contact...with pedestrian behaviour Monitored”

And should the Jaguar owner be a bit of a Cad, will there be an option for an automated wolf-whistle if the eyes appreciate what they are monitoring!!  

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