Pelikan: Why Autonomous Driving Is So Hard

Pelikan is presenting a paper at HRI 2021 on how autonomous buses must coordinate with pedestrians and other everyday road users in the social world of traffic.


Why Autonomous Driving Is So Hard: The Social Dimension of Traffic.

Smooth traffic presupposes fine coordination between different actors, such as pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers. When autonomous vehicles join regular traffic, they need to coordinate with humans on the road. Prior work has often studied and designed for interaction with autonomous vehicles in structured environments such as traffic intersections. This paper describes aspects of coordination also in less structured situations during mundane maneuvers such as overtaking. Taking an ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approach, the paper analyzes video recordings of self-driving shuttle buses in Sweden. Initial findings suggest that the shuttle buses currently do not comply with cyclists’ expectations of social coordination in traffic. The paper highlights that communication and coordination with human road users is crucial for smooth flow of traffic and successful deployment of autonomous vehicles also in less structured traffic environments.