The Future of Pedestrians with the Rise of Autonomous Vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles were a realm of science fiction before twenty years but now it has moved to a very real possibility because of the rapid developments in technologies such as AI, network infrastructure, and the sensor technologies.

“The main goal is to reduce the number of accidents.”

According to WHO approximately 1.35 million people around the world die each year in traffic accidents. Most common origin of these accidents are human errors, which can be eliminated by the use of autonomous vehicles. To achieve this, it is important that pedestrians and autonomous vehicles are interacting well.

When we drive around in a car we use eye contacts and gestures to show our intentions to pedestrians but when remove the driver as in an autonomous vehicle that direct interaction is lost. This is one of the big challenges for autonomous vehicles to interact safely with people who can be very unpredictable. Perhaps this is why so much research is going into this matter. Therefore this will create a really new experience for all the pedestrians to interact with autonomous vehicles in the future.

Many researches are working on designing new interfaces on vehicles to enhance the communication of the intent and awareness of vehicles. This is really important because many researches show that if vehicle is able to communicate as clearly to pedestrians, chance of collisions decrease.

There are many ways to communicate with pedestrians by using text, numbers and icons on the interface of the vehicle. As in the researches it is tough to read text and number symbols to read when vehicles are moving, therefore most of researches try to work on light patterns to create this interaction.

Light patterns to interact with pedestrians

The vehicles signal their awareness for the pedestrians by using these light indicators. As in the above image when there is a green light on the vehicle people can move or cross the road but does it means that it is safe for pedestrians to cross the road or does it means this car is in operation. This is why it is really important to consider how the interfaces should be and if pedestrians are knowledgeable about these. Since it is an entirely new form of interface and people need to learn a completely new language to interact with these vehicles.

Also there are some really interesting researches going through with these concepts. Jaguar Land Rover has prototyped a driverless car that makes eye contact with pedestrians is one of that.

Prototype Driverless Car

This is a really creative concept to build the interaction between vehicles and pedestrians because this is more like human drivers as it makes the eye contact with nearby pedestrians to acknowledge that vehicle has seen them and it is stopping to let them cross the road safely.

As we investigate the possibility of autonomous vehicles, their presence will completely change the present day pedestrian behaviors. Next five years will be really interesting for pedestrians with the implementation of these new concepts. We may imagine a technological dream that creates new interaction with vehicles and pedestrians with high safety which will save a large number of lives with the presence of autonomous vehicles.

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