Jaguar Land Rover is testing an autonomous vehicle with the saddest eyes of any car on the road.
Mostly because car’s don’t normally have eyes.
When it comes to autonomous cars, there are many problems that need to be dealt with. Easily the most pressing issue with autonomy is not just recognizing pedestrians as obstacles to avoid, but also letting the pedestrian know they’ve been spotted by the car and don’t need to take evasive action.
On a normal car with a normal, human driver, a pedestrian can just look through the windshield to see if the driver knows they’re there. There might even be a little wave confirmation if that driver is particularly polite.
That doesn’t happen on an autonomous car. Compounding the problem is that autonomous cars are increasingly battery-powered, meaning there isn’t even the signature rumbling of an internal combustion engine to warn the pedestrian of imminent danger.
Communicating with pedestrians is paramount for safety. That’s why Jaguar Land Rover is installing a very unique solution on a set of self-driving vehicles: googly eyes. Sad ones.
We’re not sure why Jaguar Land Rover decided to go with sad eyes for their project. We just know that the car looks like a mobile version of Eeyore.
The idea behind the eyes is to use human psychology to let pedestrians know that the car has spotted them and will take evasive action. The eyes will “look” at whatever pedestrian is closest, letting them know that the car “sees” them and also very likely causing said pedestrian to freeze in their tracks since a terrifying googly-eyed car just spotted them.
“It’s second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road,” said Pete Bennett, Future Mobility Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover. “Understanding how this translates in tomorrow’s more automated world is important. 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.”
Each Aurrigo vehicle has been fitted with a set of virtual eyes from JLR and will undergo testing at a facility in Coventry, England. If all goes well, then we might even see these cars make it onto the road.