Treating Self-Driving Cars Like Student Drivers

Eschewing glamor, Drive.ai's self-driving vehicles use bright coloring, insignia, and LED messages to facilitate better interactions with humans on the road.
August 21, 2018, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Pacific Southwest Region USFWS

Like student drivers operating vehicles advertising that fact, autonomous cars are still learning the fine art of urban navigation. The company Drive.ai recognizes that in its design choices for a ride-hailing pilot currently ongoing in Frisco, Texas. 

"The vehicles, modified Nissan NV200s, are certainly the loudest, brightest, and unabashedly dorkiest self-driving cars on the road today," writes Andrew J. Hawkins. Far from sleek, they're designed to alert other road users in no uncertain terms that they're sharing space with a self-driver.

LED screens on the vehicle's exterior provide information on the vehicle's status. Hawkins writes, "when the cars are on ride-hailing trips or on their way to a pickup, the screens will display messages that convey the vehicle's intent to pedestrians and other vehicles on the road. [...] It's intended to replace the gestures or verbal communication often used by human drivers to communicate their intentions." The hope is to "rebuild trust" in autonomous cars after recent incidents.

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Published on Monday, July 30, 2018 in The Verge
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