Autonomous cars must learn to communicate with people, since the technology needs to fit in with people who have never lived with it. So, how can autonomous cars communicate with people? Here is an explanation from the M.Vision development team of Hyundai Mobis.
Hyundai Mobis M.Vision
M.Vision is a concept car equipped with a roof-mounted modularized Autonomous Driving kit with Level 4 capability. It is equipped with specially designed lamps which can communicate with other vehicle drivers and pedestrians.
Autonomous cars must learn to communicate.
In the future, cars will be capable of Autonomous Driving, making drivers unnecessary. However, how can a car without a driver or a sleeping driver communicate with people outside of the car? Here is an example: when a human driver is making a right turn and sees a pedestrian, he or she will stop the car.
Drivers then usually make a hand or facial signal to the pedestrian to go first. Yet, cars do not have such signaling capability. Cars have signal lights but they are created to communicate the cars intention to move in a specific direction and are is not as effective or varied as the signals that human drivers can give.
Of course, autonomous cars will detect pedestrians and stop. However, it could be unnerving for the pedestrian to move forward trusting the car will behave accordingly. This lack of signaling is a major hurdle. The automobile industry is now looking for the best way for autonomous cars to communicate with people outside the vehicle. Research has been focused on aural and visual communications with an increasing effort on the latter.
Lamps are the best communication device for autonomous cars.
Lights can be used for visual communication and lamps on the cars are ideal for this purpose. While lamps on cars are designed to light up the way forward, sophisticated lighting technology can help autonomous cars communicate through their lamps.
The M.Vision is equipped with ‘communication lighting’ display lamps on the front and rear of the car. It can display messages such as ‘Autonomous Driving mode’ to inform others or ‘Caution’ to pedestrians at stop lights. It can also send messages to drivers in the car behind when needed.
The M.Vision is equipped with a specially designed Digital Micro-mirror Device (DMD) headlamp which is capable of displaying symbols using lamp lights reflected on 0.4 million tiny mirrors. It can communicate a great deal of information including vehicle conditions and warnings. A high performance sensor mounted on the roof can detect puddles on the road and caution pedestrians to avoid by displaying puddle shaped symbols.
The DMD lamp can display pedestrian crossing marks when encountering a pedestrian crossing the road where there is no marking. It can also display a visual signal to bicycle riders that the car will be passing by, even drawing a guideline to warn the bicycle rider to stay away from the car.
New lamp design may fundamentally change the way cars look.
M.Vision is equipped with extra-wide lamps on all four sides of the car for more effective communication of the messages it needs to communicate. This requires a fundamental change in car design which traditionally has had lamps taking up just a small amount of space on the car. We have encountered many challenges as a result including mounting lamps on doors. We have employed a lot of technologies from LED TV manufacturing.
Automobile design, which has evolved over a century may need to change fundamentally if the new lamps become widely adopted. One of the reasons for the current headlamp design and location is due to regulations that require the symmetrical installation of lamps of the same size and shape.
However, changes in the function of lamps will bring about changes in the regulation, removing barriers to necessary design changes. It is certainly possible that future automobiles will look very different from the ones we see today.