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businessinsider.com - 7 days ago

Ford conducted a weird experiment with a fake driverless car to see how people would respond — here's what they discovered

Ford Last month, a weird, seemingly driverless vehicle was spotted cruising around the Washington, DC area and northern Virginia. My colleague Kif Leswing covered the story and reported that there was actually a driver involved —  just wearing a "seat suit."
 That's right, he was disguised as an empty seat. We now know that the whole undertaking was a collaboration between Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute and Ford. The Detroit carmaker provided the Transit Connect vehicle. "We’re teamed up with [Virginia Tech] to test our communications method and to explore how pedestrians and bicyclists react to self-driving vehicles with no human in the driver’s seat," wrote John Shutko, a Ford self-driving researcher, on Medium. "Of course, we do need someone in that seat right now, so we dressed a human up in a seat suit to make it appear as though there was nobody inside our simulated self-driving Ford Transit Connect," he continued. "This seat suit allowed us to collect real-world reactions to an autonomous vehicle driving on miles of public roads in northern Virginia, without actually using an autonomous vehicle." Ford According to Ford, many "high-definition cameras mounted in the study vehicle provided a 360-degree view of surrounding areas and captured the behavior of other road users. " The vehicle also included a light bar at the top of the windshield.
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