We Talked to a Driver Who Disguised Himself as a Car Seat
When Andy Schaudt called me, he was navigating around the Capital Beltway in Washington DC, not dressed as a car seat. But for 20 hours in August, he was.
Schaudt, project director of the Automated Vehicle Systems department at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, worked on an autonomous vehicle study that put a regular car—a Ford Transit Connect van—on the roads of Arlington County in Virginia with a driver that was camouflaged as a seat so that passersby would think it was autonomous. These drivers logged 150 hours on the road collecting data over approximately 1,800 miles, recording everything with high-definition cameras mounted around the vehicle.
The goal was to test how cars that drive themselves might communicate—using an array of lights and signals—with pedestrians and other drivers, and how people might react to a driverless car.