"What are you looking at?": Autonomous goggle carts: Huge googly eyes are supposed to make cars safer

Communication on the road takes many different forms: with looks, more or less nice hand signals or – if the windows are rolled down – loud shouting.

"What are you looking at?": Autonomous goggle carts: Huge googly eyes are supposed to make cars safer

Communication on the road takes many different forms: with looks, more or less nice hand signals or – if the windows are rolled down – loud shouting. And while much of this is certainly not meant in a friendly way, in the end it helps to make intentions clear and to attract attention. In the case of autonomous cars, the lack of communication between man and machine could have dire consequences in the future, because a person cannot look at a moving box to see whether it is stopping, accelerating or stubbornly staying in its lane.

To solve this problem, different research projects are running worldwide. The University of Tokyo lives up to Japanese pop culture and is currently conducting experiments with gigantic googly eyes.

And it works like this: Two huge eyes that can move freely are attached to the front of a car. For example, if the car approaches a pedestrian crossing, the vehicle signals with a direct look that it has recognized a passer-by – and stops. If the car isn't looking, the pedestrian knows that it may have overlooked him - and stops to be on the safe side.

The researchers tried out the effect of the gaze in a simulator on different subjects. The result: in unclear traffic situations, the eyes reduced the number of potentially dangerous road crossings by 64 percent.

However, the design does not seem to be final (unfortunately). The technology magazine "Heise" reports that the research team is considering a different design in the next step and that the draft for the study was due to the small budget.

There were test persons who found the car's googly eyes funny or scary. They are definitely an eye-catcher – which is actually good when it comes to attracting attention.

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