Ford Calls For Standard Self-Driving Vehicle Language

As self-driving vehicles come closer to gracing streets across the world, Ford Motor Company is calling upon all automakers, self-driving vehicle developers and tech companies to work together to create a standard self-driving vehicle language that would help notify others on the road of an autonomous vehicle’s intent.  

Ford stressed the importance of developing a universal language in a recent blog post written by John Shutko, Ford’s human factors specialist for self-driving vehicles. Shutko said the development of a language for both drivers and pedestrians would help build trust toward the technology while also helping AVs integrate better with other road users.

“For this technology to be successful, it’s critical it be integrated into society in a way that makes everyone confident in how it works to serve people and business,” he said. “The idea that pedestrians, cyclists and scooter users should change their behavior to accommodate self-driving cars couldn’t be further from our vision of how this technology should be integrated. It’s why we’ve been hard at work developing an interface we believe will help self-driving vehicles seamlessly integrate with other road users.”

Shutko detailed a “self-driving intent system” that Ford has already been testing, which utilizes a light-bar mounted above the windshield. The light-bar signals three main communications — yielding, active driving and start-and-go.

He said Ford has tested the technology out in both real-world and virtual reality settings, trials that he said have improved the people’s understanding of what autonomous vehicles were doing on the road.

“What’s most encouraging is that the signals had a positive effect on people’s trust in self-driving vehicles, with participants reporting the light signals increased their understanding of what a self-driving vehicle will do.

The next step, Shutko says, is to get other automakers and developers on the same page to create one shared language on roads across the world.

“After all, ensuring self-driving vehicles are integrated into society without overwhelming or confusing anyone is what success looks like. So to do that, we’ve just got one simple request: Let’s all work together to make it happen,” he said.

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