Emotional Interation with Autonomous Automobiles

At HCDI we have been researching the possible emotional manifestations and emotional behaviours which future automobiles can naturally adopt. Evidence of the urgency of the topic can be noted in a piece in today’s Guardian newspaper which discuses the detailed causes of several of the recent crashes between road users and vehicles from the Google fleet.

Summing up the findings, UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle suggest that driving is far more of a human interaction than you might expect. They found that in several types of car crashes, male-to-male accidents are underrepresented and female-to-female crashes are overrepresented, suggesting that our perceptions of fellow motorists are critical. “Furthermore, in many situations, drivers make eye contact and proceed according to the feedback received from other drivers,” they say. “Such feedback would be absent in interactions with self-driving vehicles.”

Google and others are already modifying braking and turning behaviours to provide their vehicles a more human-like driving style. How long will it be before a quick glance across the road will provide us an obvious indication of the state-of-mind and intentions of the robot car next to us ?