A Pair of Googly Eyes on the Front of a Self-Driving Car Helps Pedestrians Decide When Crossing the Road
(Photo : falco/Pixabay) Self Driving Vehicle

According to a recent study published in ACM Library, adding some googly eyes to the front of a self-driving car could aid pedestrians in making decisions as they cross the street. Additionally, it has demonstrated that it lessens auto accidents.

A Pair of Googly Eyes on the Front of a Self-Driving Car Helps Pedestrians Decide When Crossing the Road

(Photo : falco/Pixabay)
Self Driving Vehicle

Researcher’s Vision on Adding Eyes to Self-Driving Automobiles

According to study author Professor Takeo Igarashi of the University of Tokyo, there hasn’t been enough research done on how autonomous vehicles interact with others around them like pedestrians. He asserted that additional research and effort into this interaction are required if the society feels secure about self-driving cars.

In the future, if self-driving automobiles had eyes, the orientation of the eyes would need to be coordinated with the vision system. In other words, a pedestrian would be aware that the self-driving system had noticed and registered them if they were to notice the eyes looking at them.

Googly Eyes Fixed on the Front of a Self-Driving Car

In virtual reality (VR) tests, the researchers discovered that pedestrians were able to make decisions that were safer or more effective when their eyes were fixed on the car as opposed to when they weren’t.

According to the team, pedestrians typically like to glance at car drivers to let them know they’ve signaled their presence. However, in a world where self-driving cars are the norm, pedestrians won’t be able to do this because there won’t be a driver in the car.

Experiment Using a Golf Cart

Self-driving cars frequently utilize cameras and LiDAR sensors to detect their surroundings. Autonomous vehicles may employ lidar for obstacle identification and avoidance to travel safely across surroundings, according to Wikipedia. 

In the given scenario, Igarahsi and his team wanted to know whether people would still cross the road in front of a moving golf cart when in a hurry, which is a risky behavior.

According to MailOnline, the golf cart was actually operated by one of the researchers rather than autonomously. To give the idea that there was no driver inside, the windshield was covered. Take note that the team chose to run its studies in virtual reality as opposed to the actual world. The justification for this is that asking volunteers to cross in front of a moving vehicle would be unsafe.

There were 18 Japanese volunteers in total who went through four scenarios in the VR experience. Two of these scenarios take place while the cart is equipped with eyes, whereas the other two do not. Nine males and nine females between the ages of 18 and 49 make up the participants.

Pedestrians’ Reaction to the Self Driving Car 

Robotic eyes were installed in the car, and it looked in two different directions.  When it looked at the pedestrian, it sent a signal that it was notifying them of their presence. On the other hand, when the eyes glance away, it indicates that the eyes are not registering the person. 

The scenarios were shown to the participants several times in a random order, and they were given three seconds to determine whether or not to cross the road in front of the cart.

The researchers kept track of their selections and calculated the error rates of those choices-or how frequently participants stopped when they might have crossed and crossed when they should have waited.

Researchers’ Conclusion on Adding Googly Eyes to the Car

When the eyes were attached to the cart, participants could make decisions that were safer or more effective. The results, though, were separated by gender.

Male participants chose to cross the street when the car was not stopping, among other risky actions. The cart’s eye stare, however, helped to minimize these mistakes. The decisions made by the female participants, on the other hand, were more ineffective, such as opting not to cross when the car was about to stop.

Many participants claimed they believed the situation was more hazardous when the eyes were turned away while others said they felt safer when the eyes were fixed on them.

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