Uber Patent Signals How Autonomous Cars Can Communicate to Pedestrians


Photo By TURAN via Pixabay

A new patent application of Uber has been published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and it shows how the future of self-driving cars can “talk” to the world around it, including the pedestrians.

If human drivers can communicate their intent to people around them by a little wave of the hand, some eye contact, or a nod, the Uber patent also explains how self-driving cars can communicate its intent to other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to know what it is doing. The patent proposes flashing signs so that it reflects its intention to the pedestrians. These signs and lights will be flashed on the outside of the car, such as “please proceed to cross” at the front grill of the vehicle.

Uber considers the signs as the car’s “intention outputs” that will also be visible to the road users if the car wants to stop, set off, or change its lanes. It appears like a traffic road signal, only that the lights will be embedded in the car. 

Uber’s product designer for autonomous vehicles Sean Chin said that they do not have the final implementation yet, but they consider it as a “new language” to give people such kind of road information.

“Autonomous vehicles or self-driving vehicles may require continuous sensor data processing in order to operate through road traffic on public roads,” wrote Uber on its patent application. It adds that the data will match or even surpass the capabilities of humans in making decisions based on the external entity, like a pedestrian.