Survey has revealed that pedestrians await an acknowledgement from the car driver, when crossing the street. In case of autonomous cars of the future, when drivers are not paying attention on the road, who will give the nod of acknowledgement to the pedestrians?
Sweden-based Semcon AB has developed a smiling signal to indicate to passersby when it is safe to cross the street. It has been developed along with Viktoria Swedish ICT research institute allowing self-driving cars to communicate with others on the street.
The car comes with a specially designed front grille. This will light up into a big smile when it notices there are pedestrians who are awaiting at a zebra crossing, for the car to stop. The car will come to a stop and so as to indicate the pedestrians that they have been noticed, it will deliver a smile from the special front grille. The car is fitted with advanced sensors and software to detect pedestrians. The reason the team chose smiling emoji, is because it is easily understood by everyone the world over.
In a survey, it was estimated that pedestrians depend on eye contact with the driver to determine when it is safe to cross the road. A smile or nod from the driver will indicate that the pedestrian can be sure of the driver’s cooperation.
The survey conducted by Semcon along with research company Inizio indicated that 8 out of 10 pedestrians stated that they sought eye contact with the driver prior to them taking the decision to cross the road. 47% of those surveyed also stated that they would not risk crossing ahead of a self-driving car and it is precisely for this reason that the Smiling Car concept came into being.