Big Googly Eyes on Self-Driving Cars Makes Them Safer – No, Really!
Some of mankind’s greatest innovations have come about from the most unusual ideas, and now Japanese scientists claim that putting comically large googly eyes on a self-driving car could potentially lead to fewer accidents.
Researchers from the University of Tokyo in Japan carried out the unique experiment that saw a driverless golf cart – its windows were tinted to make it appear like no one was behind the wheel – outfitted with huge, human-like robotic peepers controlled by the driver.
The concept is simple: Professor Takeo Igarashi’s team put forward that pedestrians are more likely to make safer road-crossing choices if the approaching vehicle acknowledges their presence, therefore ultimately avoiding accidents.
Eighteen participants (nine men and nine women between the ages of 18 and 49) were involved in the test. They were outfitted with virtual reality goggles for their safety, then asked if it was safe to cross the road in four different scenarios: two had the cart equipped with the googly eyes, and two went without.
The scenarios with the robotic eyes were firstly with the cart not looking at the pedestrian, and then with the cart registering their presence.
The results were informative: the volunteers were less likely to engage in risky behaviour with the googly-eyed vehicle.
Cute or creepy, safety is everyone’s business and the research certainly poses some reasonable questions on how technology can aid in keeping pedestrians out of harm’s way.
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