Jaguar Land Rover uses light to tell pedestrians where self-driving cars are going

Anything is better than the creepy googly eyes the automaker was testing.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read
Enlarge Image

Keep your eyes on the road -- literally.

Jaguar Land Rover

We caught our first glimpse of Jaguar self-driving development pods when it slapped a set of creepy googly eyes on 'em. Now, it's working on a system that is equally informative but not nightmare fuel.

Jaguar Land Rover's "projection pod" technology uses lights to cast images on the ground. Those images are meant to convey directions to pedestrians, so nearby people can see what the vehicle intends to do next.

The lights are dynamic, too. The space between the lines displayed on the road will shorten as the vehicle prepares to brake, and that space will expand as the vehicle speeds up. They can also flex to the left or right to announce an upcoming turn.

Removing the human-driver element eliminates the usual method of looking at the driver and waiting for them to either ignore you or wave you past, so JLR's trying to figure out how to make up for that. Its creepy googly eyes were meant to mimic making eye contact with a driver to determine that you've been noticed and accounted for. But since those are creepy as all get-out, this seems like a better solution.

"The trials are about understanding how much information a self-driving vehicle should share with a pedestrian to gain their trust," said Pete Bennett, a mobility research manager at Jaguar Land Rover, in a statement. "Just like any new technology, humans have to learn to trust it, and when it comes to autonomous vehicles, pedestrians must have confidence they can cross the road safely. This pioneering research is forming the basis of ongoing development into how self-driving cars will interact with people in the future."