Mercedes tests the relationship between users and autonomous vehicles thanks to the cooperative car
Autonomous driving is going to be an integral part of mobility in the future.
Mercedes-Benz considers empathy and trust to be central factors for the acceptance of self-driving vehicles. Because for people to have trust in the machine, they must immediately and intuitively be able to recognise what an autonomous vehicle intends to do.
Mercedes-Benz conducts research into this "informed trust" with the help of the "cooperative car, a special S-Class that features 360-degree light signalling for provide information on what happens next. Alternative light display concepts are also being tested with this vehicle.
Light strips in the windscreen, the radiator grille, the headlamps, the exterior mirrors and the lower area of the windows indicate to pedestrians and other road users that the vehicle is operating in autonomous mode. Short rows of illuminated dots on the roof tell other road users that they have been recognised.
In the process, only those pedestrians or cyclists whose path coincides with that of the vehicle are given a light signal. In doing so, the cooperative car recreates the natural eye contact that would have taken place between the driver and pedestrians.
The cooperative S-Class also informs its surroundings that it is about to go into operation while it is still at the side of the road. The light strips around the vehicle emit an appropriate light signal. The exterior mirrors fold out, and first the rear then the front of the vehicle lifts up. These movements resemble a living being that is waking up and stretching.
People can understand this communication intuitively.