Oct 2, 2018

AVs need a common language to tell us what they’re doing

Test vehicle with light bar communication system. Photo: Ford Motor Company

To peacefully share the road with human drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, self-driving cars will need a shared, easy-to-understand visual language to communicate their intent.

The big picture: There is currently no industry standard governing this communication. Automakers and tech companies must come together to create one, since a variety of conflicting light and color signals could cause widespread confusion and distrust.

Where it stands: There are a number of possible approaches to such a standardized communication system, from flashing lights that indicate acceleration to a solid white light that shows active driving.

  • Ford has tested an initial design — a white light bar across the top of the windshield that projects three different signals of intention — in both virtual reality and the real world with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
  • Any method used should be as simple as a brake light or turn signal flash, which can be understood easily around the world. Text messages, for example, are a poor choice because of language barriers.
  • Regulators may also play a part, as federal requirements would preclude light colors other than amber or white on the front of the vehicle, a standard aligned with international conventions. (Ford's light bar meets the current guidelines.)

What's needed: As multiple solutions for vehicle intent signals are being pursued, now is the time to develop an industry standard in parallel with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International.

John Shutko is a human factors technical specialist at Ford Motor Company.

Go deeper: Ford's call for an industry standard

Go deeper

Making sense of the UN's climate conference coronavirus delay

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The scuttling of November's pivotal UN climate conference is the starkest sign yet of how coronavirus is throwing a wrench into efforts to combat global warming. But like the wider relationship between the coronavirus and climate initiatives, the ramifications are ... complicated.

Driving the news: UN officials announced Wednesday that the annual summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, is postponed until some unknown time next year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 952,171 — Total deaths: 48,320 — Total recoveries: 202,541Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 216,722 — Total deaths: 5,137 — Total recoveries: 8,672Map.
  3. Stimulus updates: Social Security recipients won't need to file a tax return to receive their checks.
  4. Jobs update: 6.6 million people filed for unemployment last week, a staggering number that eclipses the record set on March 26.
  5. Health updates: The Trump administration won't reopen enrollment for ACA marketplaces this year.
  6. National updates: The Grand Canyon closed after a resident tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. World update: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-entered self-quarantine after his health minister tested positive for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

The weirdest NBA draft ever

Table: Axios Visuals

The 2020 NBA draft was already shaping up to be the weirdest draft in years, and now that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the sports world, it could be the weirdest draft ever.

Why it matters: While most drafts have a clear hierarchy by the time April rolls around, this draft does not. There's no reliable No. 1 pick, almost every top-10 prospect has a glaring weakness and the global sports hiatus has shrouded the whole class in mystery.

Go deeperArrow51 mins ago - Sports