The Cooperative Vehicle Concept from Mercedes-Benz aims to build that one very important parameter required for the successful deployment of Self-Driving Cars, or Autonomous Vehicles – The trust between Humans and these technologically advanced Autonomous Navigating systems.
The Cooperative Vehicle from Mercedes-Benz hopes to achieve this by laying down a criterion for effective communication between Humans and Self-Driving Cars, while both of them share the road.
The communication will effectively involve the vehicle demonstrating its intentions to the people. This involves hinting them of the way in which the Car is going to act. These include situations such as will it start, stop or take turns. This will help the people to act to the situation accordingly.
Mercedes-Benz plans to deploy this effective communication with the help of 360-Degree Light Signalling. Mercedes’s Cooperative Vehicle is currently envisioned in an S-Class and the 360-Degree Light Signalling is achieved with Turquoise light strips at different spots in the car.
Roof lamps form a very important part of this communication system as they provide insights into the intended actions of the car. When the Vehicle is in Autonomous Mode (whether it is moving or not), the light remains lit and stationary allowing the nearby people to know that vehicle is driving by itself. The lamp undergoes multiple slow flashing when the vehicle is braking or about to break.
Yet another highlight of the Cooperative Car is its ability to let the people know that the Autonomous Cars are aware of their existence and movements. They do so with the help of their Roof Lights. The Roof lights mimic the movement of people around the car. This way people near the car will know that car is aware of their movement and will act accordingly. This builds more trust in people to be around Self-Driving Vehicles.
Mercedes mentions that this is similar to the eye contact between human drivers and people on the road.
One main point to be noted in the Mercedes’s Cooperative Vehicle is the similarity of its movements with humans. When a car parked by the road is about to take off, the car warns the people around it. In order to do this, the Car lifts up its rear side first and then the front side. The side lamps are also pushed out and the LED lamps start blinking in a particular fashion.
Many companies investing in Self-Driving Cars looks forward to applying the Self-Driving Technology to a stream of applications such as Autonomous Fleets or say for meeting transportation requirements in Logistics.
Whatever the applications may be, it is important to note that in order for these Autonomous Vehicles to replace humans, their capabilities should first be trusted by humans. Building the trust between Humans and Self-Driving Cars is a major challenge that each company investing in Autonomous Vehicles must start addressing to.
In the absence of trust is when people will start pushing away Autonomous Vehicles. A real-time example that can be cited here is that of Waymo, the self-driving car company under Alphabet. Recently there have been reports of threats and attacks against Waymo Self-Driving Cars by some of the residents of Arizona. One of the people who tried to threaten the Waymo Van and Safety Driver cited the example of Uber’s Self-Driving Car killing a pedestrian.
If people’s belief in Self-Driving is not strengthened, more of such issues (on a much higher scale globally) are sure to crop up and the Self-Driving Cars will have a tough time achieving the purpose for which they were built. Hence this Cooperative Car Concept from Mercedes Benz truly deserves a pat on the back.
Source – Daimler