Can autonomous cars be trusted? They can be more that humans, it seems.
Can autonomous cars be trusted? They can be more that humans, it seems.

Huge problem with driverless cars already being solved

How do you know what a robot is thinking?

This is the question haunting car makers as they rush to develop driverless cars.

Luxury brand Land Rover is hoping to have found a solution to building public trust in autonomous vehicles.

Previous research conducted by the maker has found that 63 per cent of people mistrust the concept of driverless cars and worry about how safe it would be to cross the road with autonomous vehicles about.

The new tech would project the autonomous vehicle's direction of travel onto the road ahead, giving surrounding pedestrians and other road users an indication of what the vehicle will do next.

Land Rover is trialling new tech that shows a driverless car’s intent with guided lines.
Land Rover is trialling new tech that shows a driverless car’s intent with guided lines.

The tech projects light bars onto the road with the gaps between the bars contracting as the vehicle prepares to brake. The bars will also show whether the vehicle is planning on turning.

Land Rover has tested the technology at its Coventry facility on autonomous pods developed by future mobility tech firm Aurrigo.

Land Rover future mobility research manager Pete Bennett believes getting people to trust autonomous cars is critical to the success of the technology.

"The trials are about understanding how much information a self-driving vehicle should share with a pedestrian to gain their trust," says 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."

Land Rover has previously fitted virtual eyes on its autonomous pods to build trust with other road users.

Land Rover is undertaking autonomous pod trials to learn how the vehicles can interact with the public.
Land Rover is undertaking autonomous pod trials to learn how the vehicles can interact with the public.

The future transport solution would make eye contact with pedestrians preparing to cross the road or other drivers.

"It's second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road. Understanding how this translates in tomorrow's more automated world is important," says Bennett.

Trust is being billed as one of the biggest issues with driverless cars.

Ford recently said that for autonomous vehicles to become a reality they must first earn the trust of other road users.

The maker found that its driverless cars need to act like the other cars on the road and adjust to different driving habits for each market. The driverless cars need to be predictable in their actions. Ford aims to reach this level of trust, starting with extensive test drives in numerous cities to help develop the required software and hardware.

The public needs to trust autonomous cars if they are to become common place.
The public needs to trust autonomous cars if they are to become common place.

Not all car company executives are sold on the idea that fully autonomous cars will become a reality.

Earlier this year BMW board member Ian Robertson voiced his doubt as to whether driverless cars could ever be trusted to roam the streets. He told UK publication Autocar: "Imagine a scenario where the car has to decide between hitting one person or the other - to choose whether to cause this death or that death.

"What's it going to do? Access the diary of one and ascertain they are terminally ill and so should be hit? I don't think that situation will ever be allowed.

"This ethical dilemma could arise in a countless number of situations - whether a car should plunge off a ravine or swerve into a group of pedestrians, for example."


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