Of the many challenges facing driverless car technology, communicating with pedestrians is among the most perplexing of tasks. How, exactly, do you broadcast intent? And can cars build trust?
While some companies are betting on LED screens to do their talking, Jaguar Land Rover has another idea. The British car maker recently unveiled a concept called Virtual Eyes, and it’s a totally goofy vision of what our driverless future could look like.
The company’s designers outfitted a driverless pod with an oversized set of emoji eyes. The eyeballs, located where the headlights should be, make eye contact and follow pedestrians as they cross the street. Not creepy at all!
In theory, this does make sense. Establishing an emotional connection (disturbing or otherwise) between car and human ensures they’re aware of each other. With Virtual Eyes, Jaguar Land Rover is exploring how little information is needed to communicate intent with autonomous vehicles. Do we need LED screens explicitly telling us what a car is about to do? Or are the eyes of a giant, rolling Furby following you down the street enough to make you steer clear?