Coventry, England - Does the thought of sharing the road with autonomous vehicles scare you a bit?

If so, you’re not alone. Research conducted in the US shows that 41 percent of motorists and pedestrians have those fears.

Although it will be a long time before the roads are heavily populated by driverless cars, Jaguar is already working on (and testing) a solution to help put road users’ minds at ease.

The system projects information onto the road ahead to give other road users a better idea of what the autonomous car (or pod, in this case) is going to do next.

The key element here is a series of projected bars with adjustable spacing - the gaps shorten as the pod is preparing to brake and increase as the vehicle pulls off and accelerates, and the lines also fan out left or right as it prepares to turn.

Jaguar reckons similar projections could be used to warn other road users about obstacles it detects and even share journey updates with pedestrians.

The projections are being tested on autonomous pods developed by Aurrigo, at a fabricated street scene in Coventry, where engineers record the “trust levels” reported by pedestrians, with and without the projections in front of them.

The trials, which are supported by cognitive psychologists, also includes the fitting of virtual eyes to the autonomous pods to see if making “eye contact” with the pedestrians improved the trust levels.

“The trials are about understanding how much information a self-driving vehicle should share with a pedestrian to gain their trust,” said JLR Future Research Manager Pete Bennett.

“Just like any new technology, humans have to learn to trust it, and when it comes to autonomous vehicles, pedestrians must have confidence they can cross the road safely.

“This pioneering research is forming the basis of ongoing development into how self-driving cars will interact with people in the future.”

IOL Motoring