Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ford disguises man as car seat to carry out Research on self Driving; How people will react to a car driving itself

Yes people, you read that correctly: The future is here already! Ford put a man in a car seat disguise so that a Ford Transit could masquerade as a true self-driving vehicle. Why? To evaluate how passers-by, other drivers on the road and cyclists reacted to sharing the road with an
autonomous vehicle.
The trial, conducted with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, also made use of a light bar mounted on the top of the windshield to provide communication about what the car was doing, including yielding, driving autonomously or accelerating from a full stop. The Transit Connect van used for the trial would indicate its behavior using signals including a slow white pulse for yielding, a rapid blinking for accelerating from a stop, and staying solid if it’s actively in self-driving mode. The bar is positioned roughly where a driver’s eye line would be, to try to catch the attention of those around it who would look in its direction. Ford and VTTI conducted VR testing to discover that these definitely need to be learned – people need a few different exposures before they clue in. But there’s potential for them to become widely accepted, provided they’re repeated often and consistently.

The test is just the start, though already Ford and VTTI have run 150 hours of tests covering around 1,800 miles in their urban testing ground, with a dense concentration of pedestrians, other drivers and cyclists. The eventual goal is to continue with light signal research, and then to work together with industry standards organizations including the International Organization for Standardization and SAE International to make these shared in common across automotive and transportation companies.

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