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Image: Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover is working with cognitive psychologists to study how pedestrians prepare to cross a road, and how they might safely interact with an autonomous vehicle. In this part of the Autodrive project supported by the UK government, autonomous pods are running on a simulation of a street scene in the UK city of Coventry, near to JLR’s HQ. These have been fitted with ‘virtual eyes’ which look for, and then at, a pedestrian, before signalling that the car has identified them and intends to stop and avoid them.

This project aims to work out how much information self-driving cars should share with other road users, in a bid to ensure that people trust and are confident in the technology. More than 500 test subjects have so far been studied in their interactions with the vehicles.

Pete Bennett, Future Mobility Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said in a statement: “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. 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.”

The pods have been designed and made by Aurrigo, based in Coventry. The company’s Pod Zero four-seater is also taking part in on-street trials in Milton Keynes, UK, and the firm further offers ‘devpod’, a testbed vehicle with a customizable API.

-Farah Alkhalisi