Jaguar Land Rover put "virtual eyes" on its self-driving pods to measure how much trust people have in autonomous vehicles.
The autonomous pods run on a test street set and make direct "eye contact" with pedestrians to signal intent. Engineers then record the trust levels in the 500 test pedestrians before and after "eye contact" is made to discover if people have enough confidence in whether the car will stop for them.
Studies have shown that 63% of pedestrians and cyclists say they'd feel less safe with autonomous vehicles on the road, according to the automakers. Jaguar Land Rover hopes that the research will provide insight into how much "information" self-driving cars should share to increase trust in the vehicles.
The project plays off of the "second-nature" urge that pedestrians have when looking at the driver of a car before stepping out into the road.
"Understanding how this translates in tomorrow's more automated world is important," a research manager at Jaguar Land Rover's Future Mobility project, Pete Bennett, said in a prepared statement.
"We want to know if it is beneficial to provide humans with information about a vehicle's intentions or whether simply letting a pedestrian know it has been recognized is enough to improve confidence."
Check out the "eyes" that have engineers and cognitive psychologists working together: