University of Tokyo teacher suggests giving cars big cartoon eyes to make them safer

The cars have eyes.

In urban areas, zebra crossings are always a roll of the dice. These zebra-lined paths are intended for pedestrians to cross freely without fear of being hit by a car, and for the cars themselves to know to stop if a person uses them.

That’s how it all works in theory, but as anyone who lives in a city will tell you, motorists don’t always follow this rule. I used to never cross the road when there was a car nearby because I never really trusted the driver to be alert enough to see me. On the other hand, after getting my own driver’s license, I softened the issue as I now realize it’s not just about crossing the street screwing the driver’s head.

This lack of communication is quite a dilemma, and it would certainly be nice if there was a visual reference that would let pedestrians know that a driver sees them and validate them as a person who should not be hit with their heavy machinery.

But maybe there is…

Although it looks quite similar, this video is no joke. It’s ‘Gazing Car’, the concept of Chiaming Chang, a lecturer in the Department of Creative Informatics at the University of Tokyo. Chang uses his extensive background in design to devise ways to connect people and technology more smoothly.

This case addresses the problem of people being accidentally hit by autonomously driving cars. Signals are given on the driver’s side when people and objects near the vehicle are detected, but anyone outside the car is blind to them and can only guess if the car can see them.

Chang’s concept gives pedestrians a very clear indication of whether the car’s sensors can detect them in the form of wonderfully large eyes at the front. As clear as day, anyone can know what the car sees, and then make more informed decisions about whether or not to cross the street.

A preliminary study of nine men and nine women who used a VR reenactment of crossing the street with both an eyeless and an eyeless car was conducted and the results suggest that the eyes had an effect on the ability of pedestrians to judge whether it was safe to cross or not.

A video demonstration of the idea was posted to YouTube last month and received mixed reviews from comments like the following.

“It’s an interesting idea that the human side understands: ‘He’s not looking at me.’” “Unique! It’s great to see ideas like this come to life.’ “Anthropomorphism, great stuff!” ‘How do we make self-driving cars even scarier?’ “I like this concept of bringing human interaction into autonomous vehicles. While driving, we not only interact with other vehicles, but also with the actual driver. Usually with hand gestures, like telling other drivers to go or giving the bird…” “You cite safety information (accident reduction) from a study with nine participants?” “So this is still something that puts the burden on pedestrians safely, rather than on the vehicle or driver.” ‘I hope this is a joke.. LMAO..’

This is all still in the concept phase and there is no arguing that more research is needed to confirm that cars with moving eyeballs really increase safety. Also, a future design based on the same principles could end up being something less noticeable than big cartoon eyes…although I sincerely hope not.

▼ Oh, what’s going on?

The only question I have is, since autonomous cars can perceive multiple objects at once, do the eyeballs react to seeing a pedestrian on each side of the road simultaneously? It seems the two options are either to go all the way with the wall or have his eyes darting all around suspiciously – which would be a winning idea either way.

Actually, this seems even more useful with cars that are driven by people. Install some kind of face map system to detect the driver’s line of sight and show it in the eyes of the cars. You could even tell if they looked down at a smartphone or fell asleep this way.

Maybe then we can all use crosswalks the way they are intended.

Source: Gazing Car, Chia-ming ChangPictures: YouTube/AdonisChang● Want to know more about SoraNews24’s latest articles as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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