Ready for cars to start talking to you? Drive.ai, an elusive self-driving car startup, outlined its strategy on Tuesday for how it’s going to make driverless vehicles friendlier and smarter. Part of this strategy involves placing screens on the top of cars that can display information, like text alerts and emojis that indicate what the car is planning to do. In the description given, the car is able to indicate to pedestrians that it is safe to cross.
“So much of driving is non-verbal communication, when you’re inside the car, you’ve made eye contact with other drivers and pedestrians, you wave people across,” Carol Reiley, co-founder and president of Drive.ai, told TechCrunch. “All these type of things are ways that a human expresses what the driver’s trying to do to communicate with other drivers on the road, so now if you take the driver out of the driver’s seat and no one’s watching the road, how do all the other people around the self-driving car now know what the car is trying to do?”
So far a lot of development has been focused on cars communicating with other systems. AT&T’s 5G cellular network tests were touted as a way of enabling car A.I. to communicate with the surrounding world, while back in February Qualcomm president Derek Aberle outlined how self-parking cars could communicate to find open spaces and find their own spot.
Drive.ai’s initial product will bring the company’s communication system and driverless technology to existing cars. It’s already working with car makers and industry partners to shift the industry’s focus onto pedestrian messaging. The company sees the focus on establishing a common language as crucial: the first time most people will see a self-driving car will be as a pedestrian.
“The self-driving car is the first social robot that a lot of humans will interact with,” Reiley told TechCrunch. “What we look at is how do you now replace all these social cues that humans give each other and how do you build trust and transparency. ”