Mercedes-Benz has developed a new prototype of an autonomous vehicle that uses lighting effects to alert road users about its intentions.
One of the main difficulties that general public still face when it comes to accepting autonomous vehicles is that the vehicle cannot communicate with the road and other road users in the absence of a human driver. Companies thus had to come up with ways that an autonomous vehicle could convey messages to other drivers and pedestrians.
Jaguar suggested the use of lines on a road that will show where the car will go while Volvo came up with a smart concept that had exterior screens to display messages. The concept car Mercedes-Benz developed uses light pods and bars to indicate its status.
Called the Cooperative Car, the concept is based on the S-Class sedan and uses turquoise lighting for its signaling. The choice of turquoise as the color used for signaling was based on the findings of an in-house study which showed that participants preferred that color, and turquoise is not generally a color that is seen in the automotive space.
The concept vehicle has lights in many places, like the 360-degree pods on the roof, light displays in the windshield, radiator grill, the exterior mirrors and the headlamps. Mercedes-Benz is hoping that all these lights will serve as a replacement for the eye contact that human beings generally make with the driver of a car when trying to cross the road ahead of the vehicle.
- A continuous light on the roof means that the car is in autonomous mode.
- Slow flashing lights show that the car is braking.
- Pulsing roof lights mean that the car is about to move.
- A row of small light dots on the roof shows that the car realizes that there are obstacles in front of it.
Mercedes-Benz is seeking further ways in which it can turn the entire body of the car into a digital communication medium.