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Transportation Science Technology

Ford Disguised a Man As a Car Seat To Research Self-Driving (techcrunch.com) 84

According to TechCrunch, Ford put a man in a car seat disguise so that a Ford Transit could masquerade as a true self-driving vehicle in order to evaluate how passers-by, other drivers on the road and cyclists reacted to sharing the road with an autonomous vehicle. From the report: The trial, conducted with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, also made use of a light bar mounted on the top of the windshield to provide communication about what the car was doing, including yielding, driving autonomously or accelerating from a full stop. The Transit Connect van used for the trial would indicate its behavior using signals including a slow white pulse for yielding, a rapid blinking for accelerating from a stop, and staying solid if it's actively in self-driving mode. The bar is positioned roughly where a driver's eye line would be, to try to catch the attention of those around it who would look in its direction.

Ford Disguised a Man As a Car Seat To Research Self-Driving

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  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2017 @06:56PM (#55191907)
    Been done before but the Ford setup is much more convincing.
  • on how people would react, since it is presently illegal to send out a self driving car onto public roads without a person there ready to take control. If it were legal, people would react differently (like, probably, fewer of them would call the cops).

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      They tried with drive throughs (with an invisible driver):

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • "If it were legal, people would react differently (like, probably, fewer of them would call the cops)."

      Unless its been on TV, no one knows whats legal and whats not. Especially with weird new technology. So you are assuming a lot there. More likely they would video it and upload it to be some kind of superstar, which is this generations "thing".

      • Any 80s kid has seen a self driving car on TV.

        Actually even with a similar costume for the actual driver.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2017 @07:12PM (#55191983)
    waaay back in the day, when Ford/Chevy made "talking cars", as in the female (always female) voice "your door is a jar" or ajar or something like that, a new Buick bought by a church-going lady ran off the road after leaving the dealership. she said that "haunts are in my car" (haunts are ghosts). this experiment has a little "haunt" potential, even if it's only distracted drivers calling 911 to report it. and yes, those would be data points.
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Studies have shown that people (especially men) are more likely to listen to a female voice. Even fighter jet pilots get directions from women.
      • by Lordpidey ( 942444 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2017 @07:47PM (#55192183) Homepage
        Female voices tend to come out better after deep compression, that's a big part of the reason why they were used so much in 80s technology, because they were easier to understand.
        • There was study done by the US Navy or Air Force in the 80's to see what kind of voice would work best for warning fighter pilots of various things. Higher pitched voices cut through cockpit noise and other distractions better than others, so they used women to record the warning signals.

          I think the overall theme is that higher pitched voices cut through noise floor better than lower pitched voices.

          • by hawkfish ( 8978 )

            There was study done by the US Navy or Air Force in the 80's to see what kind of voice would work best for warning fighter pilots of various things. Higher pitched voices cut through cockpit noise and other distractions better than others, so they used women to record the warning signals.

            I think the overall theme is that higher pitched voices cut through noise floor better than lower pitched voices.

            This was known back in the 1960s. This is why the Star Trek ship's computer had a female voice.

      • by Imrik ( 148191 )

        They later learned that those studies only applied in the US, other countries had to be studied individually to find out what voices got better results in the local culture.

      • by sh00z ( 206503 )

        Studies have shown that people (especially men) are more likely to listen to a female voice. Even fighter jet pilots get directions from women.

        Woman with an Australian accent, please. And her name is Gigi.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      When Chevy tried this in the Astro van, it kept malfunctioning, by saying "Ruh-roh, Reorge! Roor is ropen!!!"

    • My first car with remote start had pretty good range if you parked strategically. I could start it from inside my building from about 200yds away as long as I had line of sight. Handy on cold mornings. I went out one morning to find a cousin fuckin' redneck wide eyed looking at it. I wished him good morning and started getting in the car and he said "I thought there was a ghost in that car!" He was absolutely serious. People still believe such shit.

    • What an adoring jar.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2017 @07:17PM (#55192021) Journal
    Equifax disguised a music major as Chief of Security!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Its ok though because she's a woman. Women can do anything better than men, even things they have no training in or no understanding of. Anything other than complete agreement is sexist, misogynist, man-splaining, white/male privilege.

  • Just let me get my shotgun, a barrel of whiskey, and we can try it again where you surprise me by having a car drive itself down my rural road.

    No guarantees it will return, mind you. Don't truck with ghost cars round these here parts.

    • Just let me get my shotgun, a barrel of whiskey, and we can try it again where you surprise me by having a car drive itself down my rural road.

      There are places where cars with flashing lights are regarded as revenuers and shotguns are the standard welcome.

      How nice for Ford to put a car with flashing lights on the road to try distracting other drivers, all in the name of proving how safe AVs are.

  • Insulting (Score:4, Funny)

    by JThundley ( 631154 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2017 @07:19PM (#55192027) Homepage

    This is so insulting. Didn't we all as a society agree that actors in blackface is racist and offensive? Why is putting a man in carface any different?

  • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2017 @07:43PM (#55192165)

    I think I saw this trick done in the Knight Rider TV series from the 1980s

    I specifically remember one scene in an early episode where KITT drove itself and came to a park. You can barely make out the hands on the steering wheel before they quickly pulled themselves away - but it wasn't edited out ;)

  • Isn't it illegal to drive on public roads wearing masks or other things that obscure the drivers field of view? (if not, it should be...)
  • BLACKSBURG, Va. An earthquake shook the ground just 22 miles from Blacksburg, Virginia Wednesday afternoon. The 3.1 magnitude quake occurred at 1:33 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Just to try to hide a driver. I bet 95% of the drivers this car passes wouldn't even register a driver or a lack thereof.

    Not only are most people just plain not that observant, but what's the difference between this and a car with darkly tinted windows? I can't see the driver of that car, either.

    • "what's the difference between this and a car with darkly tinted windows? I can't see the driver of that car, either."

      Well you dont really look twice when you see darkly tinted windows, because everyone knows you cant see through them. So that right there is a different reaction than a driverless car.

      On the other hand at a light, hopefully most people make eye contact with any turning drivers and such, so they dont get run down. So it would surely be an effective test if people noticed it in the situations

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        On the other hand at a light, hopefully most people make eye contact with any turning drivers and such, so they dont get run down. So it would surely be an effective test if people noticed it in the situations where they would normally. I mean thats the point im sure. They did put a giant flashing light bar "positioned roughly where a driverÃ(TM)s eye line would be, to try to catch the attention of those around it who would look in its direction."

        That was the point of Ford's research - how much informa

  • They did this on Street Outlaws. Farmtruck and AZN bought a Hearse and hollowed out the seats so it looked like no one was driving. They got pulled over by Okla. City cops who had no sense of humor at all.

  • Back in the 1980s Austrian television channel ORF1 showed a TV show about a guy with a talking car solving crimes. It was called "Knight Rider".

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TL6J... [blogspot.com]

    Also note the size of that huge thumb on the left side.

  • Hello! The 80's are calling, they say this is old news!
    http://www.neatorama.com/2011/... [neatorama.com]
    https://geeks.media/knight-rid... [geeks.media]

  • The Transit Connect van used for the trial would indicate its behavior using signals including a slow white pulse for yielding, a rapid blinking for accelerating from a stop, and staying solid if it's actively in self-driving mode.

    So their future truly-self-driving cars will cause accidents by causing seizures in the epileptic drivers around them.

    • Besides that, how are drivers supposed to know what those arbitrary signals mean? That's not on any standard driver's test.
      Even by watching and matching the car's behavior to the lights, that could take a number of instances before the correlation is perfectly clear.

Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him. - Fyodor Dostoevski

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