New smart car tech could display traffic signs inside vehicles

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute are in the process of developing a new way to save fuel and money with technology that could display traffic signs inside of vehicles.

, the dashboard screen would display stop, yield and other signs, removing the need for external road signs and automatically notifying the driver of upcoming commands. The thought is that drivers would no longer need to stop and wait at traffic signs if there are no other cars in the vicinity.

Alexandria Noble, a master’s student who is working with the researchers, said: “The idea is there would be no physical stop or yield signs on the side of the road, but they would be inside the vehicle.”

The study is being funded by the US Department of Transportation and spearheaded by Noble under direction from project manager Thomas A. Dingus. The transportation institute’s Human Factors Transportation Safety Graduate Certificate Program was recently launched, with Noble being the first student.

The institute has been focusing on connected-vehicle technology, developing ideas for “smart” cars that will enable communication with other vehicles as well as a larger infrastructure. This will hopefully make roads safer and ease everyday issues with congestion etc.

Dingus, the institute’s director, said: “This is part of our initial efforts to integrate more revolutionary safety concepts with the growing field of connected-vehicle technology.

“While a relatively new area in the transportation realm, adaptive stop/yield signs have the potential to be a long-term solution for not only minimising traffic problems on increasingly congested roadways, they may also help mitigate negative environmental impacts.”

A 17-week closed experiment was recently completed, with participants filmed to record drivers’ upper bodies and lines of sight as well as the dashboard and vehicle. In some experiments, the internal display was rigged to fail in order to assess how the subject would react. It has not yet been tested in a real traffic environment.

“This study was set up to take place in a future where all static traffic control infrastructure, such as stop signs and yield signs, are no longer needed, and you have an adaptable in-vehicle display telling you when you need to stop and when a stop is unnecessary,” continued Noble.

It was reported recently that Jaguar is developing an intelligent car capable of learning the habits of the driver and prevent unnecessary distractions. The technology means that the car could automatically adjust things like mirrors, the steering wheel and seats as soon as the driver unlocks the door.

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