Pedestrians and visual signs of intent: towards expressive autonomous passenger shuttles

Himanshu Verma, Guillaume Pythoud, Grace Eden, Denis Lalanne, Florian Evéquoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Autonomous Passenger Shuttles (APS) are rapidly becoming an urban public transit alternative. Traversing populous com-mercial and residential centers, these shuttles are already operating in several cities. In the absence of a human driver andembedded means of communicating the autonomous shuttle’s intent, the task of seamlessly navigating crosswalks andpedestrian-friendly zones becomes a challenging pursuit for pedestrians.We contribute to the emerging notion of AV–Pedestrian Interaction by examining the context of autonomous passengershuttles (APS) in real-world settings, and by comparingfourdifferent classes of visual signals – namelyinstructional,symbolic,metaphorical, andanthropomorphic– designed to communicate the shuttle’s intentions. Following a participatory methodologyinvolving local residents and public transport service provider, and working within the framework of inflexible road trafficregulations concerning the operation and testing of autonomous vehicles, we conducted a participatory design workshop, aqualitative, and a survey study. The findings revealed differences across these four classes of signals in terms of pedestrians’subjective perceptions. Anthropomorphic signals were identified as the preferred and effective modality in terms of pedestrians’interpretation of the communicated intent and their perceived sense of attention, confidence, and calmness. Additionally,pedestrians’ experiences while judging the intention oftransitionaryvehicular states (starting/slowing) were reported asperplexing and evoked stress. These findings were translated into design and policy implications in collaboration with otherstakeholders, and exemplify a viable way for assimilating human factors research in urban mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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