Hella mulls light for communication in road traffic

August 02, 2021 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Hella mulls light for communication in road traffic
A research project by automotive supplier Hella focuses on the question of how self-driving cars can communicate with other traffic participants, in particular with pedestrians and cyclists.

Eye contact plays an important role in encounters between cars on the one hand and cyclists and pedestrians on the other - this allows mutual behaviour to be assessed and driving decisions to be adjusted accordingly. However, this only works with human drivers. In order to clarify how such communication can also be established in automated vehicles, Hella has started a research project together with partners.

If, in the future, cars will move around independently and drivers will be able to turn their attention to other activities, it must be ensured that self-driving cars can also communicate with other road users. Light will play a prominent role here, explains Michael Kleinkes, who is responsible for lighting technology development at Hella.

he basic lighting concepts for this are now to be researched in the coming years as part of the "INITIATIVE" project. Among other things, the project is investigating how an autonomous vehicle can use light-based systems to signal that it has detected a pedestrian or cyclist and that they can safely change sides of the road. For example, the use of LED-based status indicators or displays on the vehicle body is conceivable. "The difficulty essentially lies in the fact that the form of communication must be visible at all times of the day and night and easily and quickly understood by every road user. Such a uniform communication methodology does not currently exist. But it is a basic prerequisite for automated driving to become reality at all," says Kleinkes.

With this project, Hella is continuing its research and development activities in this area. The current project therefore builds on the "interACT" research project, which was successfully completed in the middle of last year. Different communication methods are now being tested under real conditions in the networked, urban infrastructure of a test site in Oldenburg; sensor data from the automated vehicle and the traffic


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