In the development of the autonomous car , a fundamental pillar will be its ability to interact with other vehicles and with other road users such as pedestrians. And in this area have already started to work several brands embarked on this technology, as is the case of Ford, although it is not the only one: for example, Jaguar has developed a prototype with eyes to give confidence in pedestrians and there are those who already work in machine-human understanding.
In its case, the oval brand has carried out an experiment based on visual communication using light signals to relate to pedestrians, in a very similar line to the solution that Mercedes-Benz recently presented with its ‘cooperative’ autonomous vehicle .
Obviously, gestural communication disappears with the driver in the autonomous car, so manufacturers are looking for ways to interact with other users in this type of vehicle. And it seems that the option making use of lights is preferred, at least with regard to manufacturers such as Ford or Mercedes.
The goal of the oval brand is to create a standard that communicates driving in autonomous automobiles , for which it is working together with several entities, such as the International Organization for Standardization or the Society of Engineers.
For this experiment, Ford created what they call the ‘human driving seat‘, which is basically a seat-shaped disguise that simulates a driverless Ford Transit Connect. In addition, in this so-called autonomous car, they added a luminous bar on the roof of the vehicle, whose purpose was to emit light signals to communicate with pedestrians.
Several drivers were instructed to put themselves at the controls of the falsely autonomous Transit behind this disguise, which in turn were in charge of operating a command that activated the different signals. Thus, the van took to the street to check the effectiveness of this method: the bar flashed in different colors (white, purple and turquoise) , to indicate that the vehicle was circulating, about to start up or to yield the He passed.
The study, after this testing phase, has served to draw different conclusions. After observing the reaction of some 1,600 people, turquoise turned out to be the preferred color for this type of communication, because it is more visible than white and less confusing with red, as in purple.
It notes that this key was also chosen by the participants in the study by Mercedes-Benz, also based on communication using light signals to 360 with which it equipped its Class S autonomous.
According to Ford, after these tests, they obtained a fairly high level of acceptance and a remarkable level of confidence was registered in this type of signals , reason why the manufacturer considers that they could well serve as a base to perfect this visual language with the aim of establishing This pursued standard of communication.
On the other hand, Ford has carried out other independent tests together with HELLA, a company specializing in lighting and automotive electronics, in which they tested different locations for such lights , such as the grille or headlights, as well as the roof. In the case of the tests carried out in Virgina, they were placed on the windshield. However, a preferred location has not yet been completed.
Eye contact is important, but in the first place, road users look to see what a vehicle is doing. The next step is to see how we can make sure that the light signals are clearer and more intuitive for all.