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‘Virtual eyes’ test trust in driverless cars

12:18 pm, 28th August 2018

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said it was conducting tests on how humans interact with driverless vehicles through the fitting of large ‘virtual eyes’ to intelligent pods.

The trust testing has been taking place on a mock-up street at its operations in Coventry.

The carmaker said the technology, created by its future mobility division with help from cognitive psychologists, was a response to research suggesting as many as 63% of pedestrians worry about how safe it will be to cross the road in the future.

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There have been a number incidents involving autonomous vehicles – the most high profile of which was a fatality involving an Uber driverless car undergoing testing in the US last March.

JLR said its trust trials closely observed human behaviour as the “friendly-faced” pod, designed by Aurrigo, approached.

The company explained: “Engineers record trust levels in the person before and after the pod makes ‘eye contact’ to find out whether it generates sufficient confidence that it would stop for them”.

The work has formed part of the company’s wider studies on how driverless cars can replicate and react to human behaviour.

Pete Bennett, JLR’s future mobility research manager, said: “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.”