Jaguar Land Rover has given an interesting twist to the experiments with self-driving cars . They have equipped a number of self-driving vehicles with virtual eyes or ‘eye pods’ as they call themselves. They really look like big cartoon eyes stuck on the vehicles, but they are far from static. The eyes are also cameras and ‘looking’ at other road users so that they know that the vehicle has seen them.
You can guess the reason: people just do not know it yet with those self-driving cars. Sensors are fine, and we know that those things work, but you never know for sure. Research shows that 63 percent of road users do not feel completely safe with self-driving vehicles. There are more parties trying to find a solution for this but the idea that Jaguar Land Rover tests is very interesting.
Look at me when I walk past you
In collaboration with a bunch of cognitive psychologists, Jaguar Land Rover has put the idea of eye pods into practice on a specially constructed street section in Coventry. The pods seek out pedestrians who are waiting to cross over with their ‘eyes’ and make it so clear that they have seen them. At the same time, the trust level of the persons before and after the pod ‘eye contact’ is analyzed. For example, it is checked whether eye contact is sufficient to stop pedestrians before they walk on the street.
Safety remains top priority for self-driving cars and Jaguar Land Rover takes it very seriously. Through this research they hope to gain a better understanding of the level of trust of road users alongside self-driving vehicles and it also provides them with valuable insights. How much information should a self-driving car share in the future with pedestrians and other road users to make them feel safe? If this set-up can answer that central question – at least in part – at least they are on the right track.