The Search for a Common Form of Communication for Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous vehicle manufacturers consider using a common language that uses standard lights or sounds to help autonomous vehicles communicate their goals to human beings.

Self-Driving Cars

Why is it essential:

Autonomous vehicles will be sharing the roads with pedestrians, human-driven vehicles, and cyclists for an extended duration. The development of a standard communications system could help to increase trust and decrease traffic accidents.

In contrast to modern drivers, AVs can’t look at other road users or use gestures to signal it’s safe to traverse the road. Companies take security very seriously; it isn’t a gamble like the ones you can do in a casino.

The situation:, an autonomous driving system creator, asks other developers to follow its recently published technical guidelines to ensure safe interactions between bicyclists and robocars.

  • The guidelines, developed in conjunction with the League of American Bicyclists, encourage AV companies to include bike lanes in the design of their AI maps, as an example, and to incorporate the typical behavior of cyclists – such as lane-splitting or turning around an open car door – in their algorithms.
  • According to Argo’s guidelines, autonomous vehicles should slow and provide additional space when it’s unclear what cyclists might take up.
  • “Roads have gotten significantly less safe for people outside of vehicles in the last decade,” Ken McLeod, the director of policy for the League of American Bicyclists, made a statement in.
  • “By addressing interactions with bicyclists now, Argo is demonstrating a commitment to the role of automated technology in reversing that deadly trend.”

In the meantime, companies are also working to develop an open language for autonomous vehicles.

  • Certain companies are pushing what they consider best practices by using voluntary self-assessments of the safety of their self-driving technologies, which they’ve submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Ford Motor’s security review, for instance, the report mentions a white light bar placed close to the top edge of the window. This is where the cyclist or pedestrian could discern signals from a driver.
  • Ford collaborated with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers to create different signals to show that an AV has completed an actual pickup or drop-off. For instance, it detects other road users by monitoring their movements and tracking them.
  • Ford claims it is the leader of an initiative to establish an international standard for visible communication outside of the company.

Zoox, in the meantime, creator of a customized robotaxi, is testing its patterns of communication using different lights that have been in its design.

  • The car has no back or front and has 32 speakers that identify sounds in a specific direction to communicate with the other drivers.
  • “We can be more intentional in the way we communicate, so we can target specific users and make sure sounds are heard by the necessary people with the right tone,” Riccardo Giraldi, Zoox’s senior director of product experience, informs.
  • “Right now, there’s just one sound — honking — which is annoying for cities,” said the official.

The bigger picture:

The roads of America are becoming more deadly and more dangerous, with U.S. traffic deaths up 18% during early 2021’s first quarter primarily due to reckless behavior such as speeding, texting, or driving under the influence.

  • ACCORDING TO TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG, the U.S. is on track for more than 40,000 road-related deaths in 2021, which is “a crisis”.

The main point:

Just as everyone knows the significance of red or yellow signals, the AVs must create standard communication methods.

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Spent a year testing the market for sock monkeys in Naples, FL. My current pet project is donating robotic shrimp in Hanford, CA. Spent several months getting my feet wet with weed whackers worldwide. Spent 2001-2006 training shaving cream in Hanford, CA. Crossed the country lecturing about bathtub gin in West Palm Beach, FL. Spent 2001-2007 implementing licorice with no outside help.