Engineers take a closer look at the car to make the roads of the future safer for pedestrians

(ORDO NEWS) — In one of the most unusual experiments we’ve seen recently, researchers attached a large pair of cartoonish bulging eyes to the front of a small self-driving car, and it turns out that this anthropomorphic setup can actually improve pedestrian safety.

A wandering pair of lookouts in front of unmanned vehicles could give people standing on the road a better idea of ​​whether they’ve been seen, researchers say.

This is useful information when you need to determine the ideal moment to cross in front of oncoming traffic.

“If the car is not looking at the pedestrian, it means the car is not recognizing the pedestrian,” the researchers wrote.

“This way, pedestrians can decide they shouldn’t cross the street, thereby avoiding potential traffic accidents.” on the number of traffic accidents, and help pedestrians feel safer.

For the purposes of this study, the researchers used golf buggies rigged so that no one was inside. The researchers controlled a pair of large swiveling eyes on the front, but in the future they could be controlled by the car’s artificial intelligence on a real unmanned vehicle.

To protect the 18 participants, experiments were carried out. carried out in virtual reality. Volunteers – nine men and nine women – were asked to decide whether or not to cross the road when the wagon approached.

A total of four scenarios were tested; two when the trolley was fitted with lugs, and two when they were not.

The researchers measured how often people hesitated to cross when it was actually safe to do so, and how often they chose to cross when it was dangerous. Overall, having eyes made the transition safer and smoother for the participants.

Engineers take a closer look at the car to make the roads of the future safer for pedestrians 2
Four scenarios were tested using VR

However, the results were divided by gender. For men, the eyes really only helped in dangerous situations, warning them to stop when they might otherwise have continued. In women, the eyes increased confidence, signaling that the transition was safe.

“The results showed a clear difference between the sexes, which was very surprising and unexpected,” says one of the researchers, Chia-Ming Chang. from the University of Tokyo in Japan.

“While other factors, such as age and background, may also have influenced participants’ responses, we believe this is an important point as it shows that different road users may have different behaviors and needs that require different ways of communicating in our the future world of self-driving cars.”

The world of self-driving cars may look vastly different in every way. Self-driving vehicle passengers and other road users will have to change their behavior in certain respects.

While big cartoon eyes won’t necessarily be accepted as a future feature of autonomous vehicles, the study is a good example of the type of research needed to better understand how pedestrians and autonomous vehicles interact before they hit the road.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure maximum safety for everyone if and when autonomous driving becomes the norm. At the moment, it seems that this is still a long way off, which gives scientists more time to study the resulting consequences.

“There is not enough research on the interaction between self-driving cars and the people around them. such as pedestrians,” says computer scientist Takeo Igarashi of the University of Tokyo.

“Thus, we need more research and effort on such interactions to ensure the safety and confidence of the public in self-driving cars. ”

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