Ford Thinks Self-Driving Cars Of The Future Will Communicate With Lights

Ford Thinks Self-Driving Cars Of The Future Will Communicate With Lights
Automotive

Ford is creating a common visual language for cars and pedestrians

Matt Vitone
  • 19 september 2017

Discussions about self-driving cars tend to focus on how they might interact with other vehicles, but just as important and often times overlooked is how self-driving cars will interact with pedestrians. This is an area Ford is exploring through a new study with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which seeks to find a common visual language that humans and machines can both understand.

While a simple wave of the hand can be enough to inform pedestrians when it’s okay to cross the street in today’s world of human-driven cars, how will self-driving cars indicate the same thing? The Virgina Tech team considered several potential options, including displayed text, but that would require people to all understand the same language. The use of symbols was also rejected because symbols historically have low recognition among consumers.

The team eventually settled on flashing light signals as the most practical solution, because they can be widely understood across different languages and cultures. Driverless cars could, for instance, flash two lights from side to side as it yields, or use a rapidly blinking white light to indicate when the vehicle is about to accelerate from a stop.

Ford ran simulated autonomous tests in northern Virginia last month, collecting more than 150 hours of data over approximately 1,800 miles of driving, including encounters with pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers. The company says the data will be used in the creation of an industry standard for all driverless cars, and is already working with several other industry organizations as a part of the effort.

“This work is of value not only to vehicle users and manufacturers, but also to anyone who walks, rides or drives alongside autonomous vehicles in the future,” said project director Andy Schaudt in a press release.

Ford also mentioned that this new standard needs to consider the needs of visually and hearing impaired pedestrians, and is planning a separate work stream to tackle that challenge.

Ford | Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

Discussions about self-driving cars tend to focus on how they might interact with other vehicles, but just as important and often times overlooked is how self-driving cars will interact with pedestrians. This is an area Ford is exploring through a new study with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which seeks to find a common visual language that humans and machines can both understand.

+Automotive
+Autonomous
+ford
+self driving
+technology
+travel
+USA
+work

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