Autonomous Car Smiles At Pedestrians, Is This The Future Of Self-Driving Tech?

Sep 16, 2016 06:00 AM EDT | Sovan Mandal

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The Swedish firm Semcon that is better known for its technological prowess has come up with a unique method of communicating with pedestrians when being driven around in a self-driving car.

The concept car that the company has come up with features a display placed on the front grille and which will be beaming a big smile to let others know if it is now safe the cross the street, AutoCar reported.

Whether or not the car will be able to beam other emotions is not known at the moment. For instance, an angry emoticon or such to warn jaywalkers trying to cross the street when they shouldn't be and so on might also be contemplated further into the future.

Of course, that would require the incorporation of even more advanced sensors backed with more elaborate software to detect such on-road activities. It is not known for now to what extent Semcon wishes to develop the technology further.

That said, the smiling signal could be enough to let passer-by have an idea when its best to walk across the street. Semcon said their pursuit has been influenced by the common perception that a self-driving car won't be able to communicate with others in a manner that a human driver is able to.

A survey conducted by Semcon revealed that pedestrians rely on eye contact to gauge when it is best to cross the street. That is sorely missed with autonomous cars with the same survey also highlighting 57 percent of pedestrians not having the same levels of trust with autonomous cars.

"When that opportunity is lost, there is a real need to develop some type of communication between the cars and the public for them to feel safe,' Semcon officials revealed justifying the use of the smiling symbols with the autonomous cars.

That said, the situation being presumed by Semcon, however, refers to the scenario when the car is driving entirely on its own with no humans present behind the wheels monitoring the development. That again points to Level 4 of autonomous driving standards though that, in turn, might trigger entire driving rules to be rewritten all over again. As already pointed by Semcon, there should be rules to identify how autonomous cars communicate with other humans in future just as we have driving rules in use now.

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