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People Don't Trust Driverless Cars. Researchers Are Trying to Change That

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Pedestrians can't make eye contact with Autonomous Vehicles.

Industrial and academic researchers are attempting to overcome the distrust of autonomous vehicles by both riders and pedestrians.

Credit: Ford Motor Company

Industrial and academic researchers are attempting to overcome consumers' distrust of autonomous vehicles (AVs), with some studying how persons outside the vehicles react while others concentrate on passengers' interaction.

Intel's Jack Weast says experiments demonstrated that interaction with AVs programmed to respond vocally is helping ease riders' concerns, while other projects also determined passengers find talking cars comforting.

There are indications that humanization of AVs could influence passengers' response to an accident, with a team at Northwestern University finding anthropomorphism helped facilitate less startled reactions among riders when the AV was struck by another car.

Scientists also are exploring other ways of having AVs communicate with riders, including video screens, sounds, and vibrations that might signal impending turns and stops.

The University of California, Berkeley's Anca Dragan is investigating giving passengers some control over AV behavior, noting the idea is to have "the car adapt to the person, rather than having the person adapt to the car."

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