JLR adds eyes to its autonomous pods in an effort to monitor pedestrian trust

03 September 2018

JLR adds eyes to its autonomous pods in an effort to monitor pedestrian trust

3 September 2018

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has fitted ‘virtual eyes’ to its autonomous pods currently being tested, to try and understand how humans will trust self-driving vehicles.

Current research suggests that up to 63% of pedestrians worry about how safe it will be to cross the road in the future. Therefore, JLR has decided to add the eyes to make the vehicles look more friendly and aware, reassuring those on pavements around.

The friendly-faced ‘eye pods’ have a vital job: helping work out how much information future self-driving cars should share with users or pedestrians to ensure that people trust the technology.

As part of the engineering project, Jaguar Land Rover has enlisted the help of a team of cognitive psychologists to understand better how vehicle behaviour affects human confidence in new technology. The trust trials form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s government-supported UK Autodrive project.

The intelligent pods run autonomously on a fabricated street scene in Coventry, while the behaviour of pedestrians is analysed as they wait to cross the road. The ‘eyes’ have been devised by a team of advanced engineers, working in Jaguar Land Rover’s Future Mobility division. The pods seek out the pedestrian - appearing to ‘look’ directly at them - signalling to road users that it has identified them, and intends to take avoiding action.

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.

Safety remains the number one priority as Jaguar Land Rover invests in self-driving technology, becoming automotive leaders in autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility. The trial is aligned with the brand’s long-term strategic goals: to make cars safer, free up people’s valuable time and improve mobility for everyone.

‘It’s second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road,’ says Pete Bennett, future mobility research manager at JLR. ‘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 trials are part of a wider study exploring how future connected and autonomous vehicles can replicate human behaviour and reactions when driving. As part of the study, more than 500 test subjects have been studied interacting with the self-driving pods, designed by UK Autodrive partner Aurrigo.