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CES 2019: Hyundai Mobis shows how lighting can reduce accidents in self-driving cars

It's way less creepy if an AV uses lights to communicate instead of some weird robot voice.

You might not think of automotive lights as components that could save lives, but Hyundai Mobis is at CES 2019 to change your mind.

Hyundai Mobis is the parts and service arm of the greater Hyundai empire, and it's come to CES 2019 with some impressive autonomous-vehicle lighting that is used to communicate the car's intent to others in a way that, theoretically, could save pedestrian collisions from occurring. It'll be especially helpful in AV development, as platforms are still being fine tuned.

According to the company, its lighting can be seen by pedestrians up to 450 feet away. When a pedestrian is detected, the lighting projects a red warning symbol, letting a person know it's not OK to enter the roadway.

The lighting elements are hidden in the body, giving it a nice and seamless look.

Hyundai Mobis

When the car comes to a stop, it can display a crosswalk on the ground, signaling it's OK to cross in front of the vehicle. Then, when it comes time to move again, the car's LED boards will show a countdown, while arrows highlight the direction of travel.

The system can tie into other driver aids, too. Hyundai Mobis provides an example where its self-dimming headlamps are able to respond faster to object detection, preventing a pedestrian or oncoming car from being dazzled.

This kind of tech isn't necessarily unique in the industry. Other companies have similar, yet different methods of conveying similar ideas. Drive.ai's self-driving van has boards on each side that display various messages. Jaguar Land Rover's AV development pod thing has some googly eyes that let a pedestrian know (in a really creepy way) that the car "sees" them. Volkswagen's looking into lighting systems that incorporate projection capabilities to display information, too.

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