External Human-Machine Interfaces for Autonomous Vehicle-to-Pedestrian Communication: A Review of Empirical Work

Front Psychol. 2019 Dec 10:10:2757. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02757. eCollection 2019.


Interaction between drivers and pedestrians is often facilitated by informal communicative cues, like hand gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact. In the near future, however, when semi- and fully autonomous vehicles are introduced into the traffic system, drivers will gradually assume the role of mere passengers, who are casually engaged in non-driving-related activities and, therefore, unavailable to participate in traffic interaction. In this novel traffic environment, advanced communication interfaces will need to be developed that inform pedestrians of the current state and future behavior of an autonomous vehicle, in order to maximize safety and efficiency for all road users. The aim of the present review is to provide a comprehensive account of empirical work in the field of external human-machine interfaces for autonomous vehicle-to-pedestrian communication. In the great majority of covered studies, participants clearly benefited from the presence of a communication interface when interacting with an autonomous vehicle. Nevertheless, standardized interface evaluation procedures and optimal interface specifications are still lacking.

Keywords: autonomous vehicles; external human–machine interfaces; human–vehicle interaction; traffic interaction; vehicle-to-pedestrian communication; vulnerable road users.

Publication types

  • Review