More interesting, though, is where the patent also outlines options for the driverless car to notify pedestrians of its intent, including a physical signaling device, an electronic sign or lights, or even a speaker that could provide audio communication. Different possibilities are detailed in sketches, with one example showing a stop sign on the front side door and another with a “Safe to cross” sign below the windshield.
The would-be exchange laid out in the patent is not unlike the one between traditional drivers and pedestrians — take a look around, make a decision, then communicate that decision. The only difference is that people crossing the street would now be interacting with computers and receiving cues from screens or speakers instead of from a fellow human being.
According to the document, “The notifications may replace those signals initiated by a driver, such as making eye contact with, waving to, speaking to, or flashing lights to a pedestrian while also sufficiently reassuring the pedestrian that it is indeed safe or not safe to cross the roadway.”