Daimler lets autonomous vehicles communicate with pedestrians

January 30, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
autonomous vehicle, communicating
The acceptance of autonomous automobility depends on many factors - for non-motorized road users, trust in the self-controlling vehicle is high on the list. For people to have confidence in the machine, they must be able to recognize immediately and intuitively what an autonomous vehicle is up to. Daimler is researching this "informed trust" with the help of a "Cooperative Vehicle.

The Cooperative Vehicle based on a Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan is equipped with 360-degree light signalling. Turquoise lights on the roof indicate the autonomous driving mode and provide information about what happens next.

  • Permanently illuminated light shows: The vehicle is in autonomous driving mode, regardless of whether it is driving or standing still.
  • Slow flashing means that the vehicle is braking.
  • Fast flashing announces: The vehicle is about to start driving.

In addition, alternative lighting concepts are also being tested with the vehicle: turquoise strip lights in the windscreen, radiator grille, headlamps, exterior mirrors and lower part of the windows mark the autonomous driving mode and thus inform pedestrians and other road users that the vehicle is travelling independently. Small rows of point lights on the roof indicate to other road users that they have been noticed. Only those pedestrians or cyclists whose movement path is related to that of the vehicle are flashed. The Cooperative Vehicle “feels” by measn of sensors and algorithms the natural eye contact that would occur between driver and pedestrian.

The vehicle equipped in this way also informs its environment when it starts operation while still standing at the curbside: The light bands around the vehicle generate a corresponding light signal. The exterior mirrors fold out, first the rear and then the front of the vehicle lift up. The developers were inspired to this movement because it reminds most humans of a large living creature that wakes up and stands up. This makes communication intuitive for most humans.

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