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Driverless cars and pedestrians

Driverless cars and pedestrians

Driverless cars are likely to influence the future of mobility. But how will pedestrians interact with driverless cars? What would be the best, safest and most sustainable design for a transportation system that accommodates all modes of traffic?

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Automated driving will shape everyday urban mobility in the future. However, many questions remain unanswered. For example: how will pedestrians react to automated vehicles and how would governments design a sustainable and safe future mobility system for all road users? This pioneer project is looking for initial answers to these questions by using a commercially available vehicle with an automated parking assistant. To date this parking assistant is the only approved system in Switzerland that moves the vehicle without requiring a person to physically be inside the vehicle. In an initial field study, the project team is observing the interactions between pedestrians and driverless vehicles in real world situations. To do so, parking maneu-vers are carried out by a vehicle with a parking assistant and an Empa research vehicle in the municipality of Thalwil. The reactions of nearby pedestrians are documented with video and with an interview following the interaction.

Based on the initial field study, safety deficiencies are identified, and test situations are defined. Both of which will be simulated in a second phase of the project on the Empa test site. The goal of the second phase is to receive more detailed insight into the behavior of driverless vehicles and pedestrians during an interaction. Based on these findings preventive measures and design principles for sustainable street spaces are derived and the results are communi-cated on various information channels. This is intended to stimulate the dialogue on the impact of driverless driving/vehicles on pedestrians. That impact is considered crucial for the design of future mobility concepts. If it becomes apparent that preventive measures and/or further in-depth investigations would be useful and/or necessary, an application for a follow-up project will be submitted.

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