This is the epitome of vehicle-to-vehicle communications.
We've all seen a flip-dot display. They're the signs at a bus station or an older airport that are made up of black and white (or day-glo yellow) squares. They flip sides to display a word or phrase, or airline route. CarBuzz has now discovered that Hyundai wants to put them on the grilles of its vehicles to relay information to other drivers and pedestrians.
"With the development of autonomous driving technology, technologies related to full-scale driving of autonomous vehicles are being developed," a new patent reads. "Research is being conducted on an apparatus and method capable of effectively transferring notice information on the state of an autonomous vehicle or notice information related to driving of the autonomous vehicle to an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian, among the technologies related to autonomous vehicles."
Our first thought is "a regular screen could definitely do that." But if you're making millions of vehicles, like the electric Ioniq 6 which will feature a similar technology, the flip dot way is cheaper, easier to fix, and uses less power. The patent does note that the system would need a light either on the grille or behind the dots to illuminate the message, which could be "This car is in autonomous mode."
The patent includes a description for a control unit to transmit the signal. We're hoping that means the driver could control the message on the grille. It also says that it could be configured to work with the turn signals, and that the flip dots could be programmed to open in different degrees, letting different amounts of light through to display different messages.
This task, of letting cars and pedestrians know what mode the car is in, will be extra important going forward, which is why Hyundai already mentioned it for the Ioniq. And if we were guessing, this type of display would look sweet on the not-for-US Staria minivan.
In the busy cities of the near future - and on most roads, really - it would be helpful to know which cars are driving themselves. That's not to say we would NEVER step off a curb when an autonomous car was approaching, but we'd probably speed up our gallop a little, just in case. And once these cars are talking to each other via V2V communications, sharing data will be even more important, to both humans and vehicles.