That Guy Dressed Up as a Car Seat to Solve a Robocar Riddle

That Guy Dressed Up as a Car Seat to Solve a Robocar Riddle

An article in Wired on human-AV interaction features thoughts from AgeLab Research Scientist Bryan Reimer:

Somewhere in northern Virginia, a man dressed as a car seat seeks the answers to vital questions about how autonomous vehicles interact with the public.

The fellow, who had nothing to say when confronted by a local NBC reporter on Tuesday, spends his days driving a silver Ford Transit Connect van around Arlington County. It requires a little skill to do this without moving one's arms, but this goofy endeavor is done in the name of science, and builds on work done in recent years by similarly costumed researchers at Stanford University.

Car Seat Man is part of a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study into human-vehicle interactions ... to observe how humans react to robocars, and determine whether the folks making such vehicles should consider design tweaks to ease any tension or avoid any confusion.

This is a key question, because eliminating the driver eliminates many of the visual cues—eye contact, a friendly wave of the hand, an extended middle finger—that pedestrians, cyclists, and others often rely on as they navigate city streets.“There’s a lot of debate right now about whether autonomous vehicles need signs of some sort to communicate their intent,” says Bryan Reimer.

Read the full Wired article here.