Ford is asking for all self-driving vehicle developers, automakers and technology companies to help create an industry standard for autonomous vehicles to communicate whether they are stopping, accelerating or giving way.

The car manufacturer asked those who are committed to deploying SAE level-4 vehicles to join forces with them to “create an industry standard for communicating driving intent, whether it be driving, yielding or accelerating from a stop.”

In a blog post John Shutko, Ford Human Factors Technical Specialist for Self-Driving Vehicles said, “Having one, universal communication interface people across geographies and age groups can understand is critical for the successful deployment of self-driving technology.”

Shutko noted it is open to making changes to the design of the communication device, “if necessary to find the best possible communication interface”.

He explained, “It’s critical that the communications method we agree upon is as readily understandable as a brake light or turn signal indicator”.

In 2017, the American company worked with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) conducting a “real-world study” of a self-driving intent interface, a light-bar mounted to the top of a windshield of a Ford Transit Connect van.

Ford tested three lighting scenarios: yielding, two white lights moving side to side to indicate vehicle is about to come to a full stop; active driving mode: a solid white light; and start-to-go, a rapidly blinking white light showing a stationary car is about to accelerate.

Shutko said Ford observed the vehicle’s actions over 2,000 miles and catalogued all the footage. They found the light signal interface did not “encourage any unsafe behaviour by other road users”.

Ford said, “The results prove there is a baseline for us to build from in terms of the potential to improve acceptance of self-driving vehicles and trust in the technology”.

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