Drivers and construction workers have always communicated with each other through various methods such as hand gestures and eye contact. With the advent of highly automated vehicles (HAVs) on the horizon, the transportation industry is interested in the ability of these vehicles to communicate their intent to other road users.
Potential HAV external communications systems are already being studied in various countries. Numerous original equipment manufacturers have a desire to establish a standard implementation across the automotive industry to prevent user confusion of signal meaning and safety warnings on roadways. While some prototypes have shown potential, stakeholders are unable to agree on design parameters and their potential implications on matters such as color and location. A current VTTI research study is analyzing the external communication design parameters for two different locations on the vehicle and two different colors of HAVs in typical roadway situations. Data were collected from study participants who served as pedestrians or as passengers in moving vehicles.
The preliminary results of the study showed a wide range of trust in the vehicles. While 50% of the participants would cross in front of an HAV, even prior to a complete stop, about 8 to 10% refused to cross the street when an HAV was present. Participants usually found that observing/interpreting external communication displays on two different vehicles was difficult and would forget some of the information they were given. Pedestrians favored the displays to be present on the windshield and were inconclusive in their choice of teal or white.
Follow-up research is currently being planned to analyze pedestrian and driver behavior with HAVs present. VTTI collaborated with Safe-D UTC, State Farm Insurance, Daimler, and Ford Motor Company for this project.
For more information on this study, please contact Charlie Klauer.