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This Is How Future Jaguars Will Talk With Pedestrians

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The connection between man and machine has never been closer.

Developing autonomous vehicles would be challenging enough if they had the roads all to themselves. But they won't operate in isolated vacuums: it'll have to share the roadways with humans, both behind the wheel and on foot. And Jaguar Land Rover, for one, is working on new ways that its future self-driving cars will interact with pedestrians crossing the street.

The British automaker is working with on an autonomous pod designed to test new technologies, aiming to help self-driving vehicles interact with pedestrians. Fitting googly eyes is one of those features being developed; this light-projection system is another.

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The system projects a series of variably spaced lines on the road in front of the vehicle. When the vehicle accelerates, the lines space out. When it's coming to a stop, they compress closer together. As it turns, the bars fan out to either side to indicate which way it's turning. Seems simple enough, but someone has to work it out. And those someones are apparently working in JLR's Future Mobility department and at Aurrigo, with support from the British government's UK Autodrive initiative. The team includes advanced engineers and even cognitive psychologists to get the human-machine interface just right.

The automaker cites studies in which 41 percent of drivers and pedestrians expressed concerns over the prospect of sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.

"The trials are about understanding how much information a self-driving vehicle should share with a pedestrian to gain their trust," said Jaguar Land Rover's Future Mobility research manager Pete Bennett. "Just like any new technology, humans have to learn to trust it, and when it comes to autonomous vehicles, pedestrians must have confidence they can cross the road safely. This pioneering research is forming the basis of ongoing development into how self-driving cars will interact with people in the future."