When you’re going to cross the street and a car heading your way, you instinctively make eye contact with the driver to see if they notice you and if they’re going to let you cross the street. In a future when cars drive themselves how will we interact with them?
Mercedes has big plans for autonomous vehicles but, like other automakers exploring the technology, they’re being faced with a question about how to establish trust between humans and machines.
For futurists at Daimler, are looking to create “informed trust” by reproducing the empathic mechanism that we automatically establish with other humans.
Daimler futurologist Alexander Mankowsky explained “People need to be able to quickly and reliably gauge what an autonomous vehicle is going to do next. The vehicle must therefore provide information about its intentions in a way that people can grasp immediately and intuitively.”
Their answer is the “Co-operative car” a concept they created using a Mercedes Benz S-Class. The roof of the car has been 3D printed to svelty encase 360degree light signals powered by cameras and sensors. They are playing around with different light patterns to communicate with the outside world, we saw the lights blink slowly to indicate it slowing accelerated blinking to let you know it is speeding up, while the solid band across the wind shield indicates the autonomous drive mode is on. The light tracked everyone who walked around the car during the demo making it clear that it was aware of our presence. They picked teal as the communication color since it isn’t already being used in traffic signals and they found it was the most calming and futuristic.
For there next concept they’re looking include directed sound to accompany the visual interface. Directed sound is much harder to implement than direct lights, and of course, there is the question of what the car will sound like or say!
No idea is off limits to the futurist group as they imagine how we will communicate with vehicles in the future. They strapped gopros to horses heads to understand how they moved there ears to scan the world around them all the way to anime artists who are masters at convening lots of emotion with simple animation.