Communicating Awareness and Intent in Autonomous Vehicle-Pedestrian Interaction

Karthik Mahadevan , Sowmya Somanath , Ehud Sharlin



Drivers use nonverbal cues such as vehicle speed, eye gaze, and hand gestures to communicate awareness and intent to pedestrians. Conversely, in autonomous vehicles, drivers can be distracted or absent, leaving pedestrians to infer awareness and intent from the vehicle alone. In this paper, we investigate the usefulness of interfaces (beyond vehicle movement) that explicitly communicate awareness and intent of autonomous vehicles to pedestrians, focusing on crosswalk scenarios. We conducted a preliminary study to gain insight on designing interfaces that communicate autonomous vehicle awareness and intent to pedestrians. Based on study outcomes, we developed four prototype interfaces and deployed them in studies involving a Segway and a car. We found interfaces communicating vehicle awareness and intent: (1) can help pedestrians attempting to cross; (2) are not limited to the vehicle and can exist in the environment; and (3) should use a combination of modalities such as visual, auditory, and physical.

Keywords:  Autonomous Vehicle Pedestrian InteractionPerceived Awareness And Intent In Autonomous Vehicles


Karthik Mahadevan, Sowmya Somanath, Ehud SharlinCommunicating Awareness and Intent in Autonomous Vehicle-Pedestrian InteractionIn Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '18)ACM, New York, NY, USA  Page: 1-12.  DOI: