Video: Ford, Virginia Tech disguise researchers as empty driver's seat to test self-driving cars

Most drivers today depend on hand gestures, or “the wave,” to communicate with pedestrians and cyclists, as well as one another. However, as the industry continues to make strides toward an autonomous future, automakers will eventually need to find an effective way for their self-driving cars to tell walkers when it is safe or appropriate to cross the street.

Ford is already aware of this predicament and last month entrusted the help of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to conduct an experiment to see how people would interact with a driverless vehicle.

A team of the school’s researchers took turns going incognito in a Ford Transit Connect, disguising themselves as the van’s driver’s seat to give the vehicle the illusion of being fully autonomous. Well, the residents around Arlington, Virginia fell for it and allowed the team to capture more than 150 hours of data from approximately 1,800 miles of driving in an urban environment.

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Victoria Krisman
Victoria Krisman is Interactive Media Specialist and Communications Manager for the Intelligent Community Forum.
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