Jaguar Land Rover’s self-driving cars look very sad thanks to a set of googly eyes that express the ultimate futility of all man’s endeavors.
Self-driving cars are coming whether you like them or not. For most people, a car that can drive itself is a fantastic upgrade. Suddenly you can watch movies, read books, or play video games during your morning commute instead of flipping the bird to the truck driver that just cut you off. Stress levels across the globe will plummet practically overnight.
However, self-driving cars come with their own set of problems. First of all, they need to be able to identify people as an object to avoid rather than crash into at the same velocity one would try to overtake that jerk of a truck driver on the highway. Uber, along with some unfortunate pedestrians, found that one out the hard way.
But avoiding pedestrians is just one piece of the puzzle. Communication on the roads is a two-way street, and pedestrians not only have to be avoided but also be told when they’ve been spotted by an autonomous car so they don’t just step out in front of one at a crosswalk.
So, how do you let a human pedestrian know they’ve been spotted? On a regular car, the driver would just make eye contact and maybe even give a little wave. That can’t happen on a self-driving car, and even if the human occupant did spot the pedestrian and wave to them that’s no guarantee the car itself spotted them.
Jaguar’s solution is to use human psychology. And grade 3 arts and crafts class.
They slapped a set of giant, googly, sad eyes on the front of their cars.
Why sad? Well, the car’s are British so they’re probably upset about the lousy weather. Or it could be that the cars have achieved a level of sentience to understand they’re essentially slaves. Either or.
Each pair of googly peepers is designed to follow the nearest pedestrian that the car can see. If it's looking at you, then it knows you're there and won't kill you. Hopefully.
The cars are currently being tested in Coventry, England as part of the UK Autodrive joint venture which includes JLR as well as autonomous car startup Aurrigo. They’ve pioneered the cars, while Jaguar has made the eyeballs. If testing is successful, we might see this horrifically sad cars on English roads sometime in the near future.