Communication between vehicle and human

Different than imposing a vehicle top-down in an environment, profoundly embedding it in a meaningful situation means to take its surroundings into account. The common private car always lagged behind when it came to communication. As a matter of fact: it still is unable to communicate adequately in an urban environment. In the early days of automotive (1860’s), automobiles needed to be accompanied by a crew of three, including a man with a red flag walking at least 50 meters ahead of the vehicle. But it soon became better with the introduction of hand gestures to signal whether you wanted to make a turn or perform a stop. Later on came the head- and turning lights. And then the communication abilities somehow stopped their innovative course. Up until now. Writer Joost Vandecasteele describes it as follows in one of his recent columns:

It’s always been a mystery to me how honking has evolved from its official warning function to a passkey of every possible expression behind the wheel. (...) Cars are produced with the most advanced technological features and yet the shrill horn remains the same for generations. (...) [Maybe one can design a horn] that creates sentences instead of the sharp sound: Hey! You there, in front of me! You’re not causing danger, but you irritate me!
— Joost Vandecasteele. “Als het voetvolk Brussel verovert”, De Standaard, 11/06/15

The visual signalisation of a driverless vehicle is not very useful to its own sort, but mainly must inform its intentions towards other means of transport. Vision still remains a good way to do so, but as brainstorm: what could be achieved with other sensory information?

(Wouter Struijk, Rocco Carrieri, Wouter Haspeslagh)