By on May 22, 2015

Johnny Cab

Virtual drivers may be the key to developing trust in autonomous vehicles, so long as those drivers are quicker on the draw than Johnny Cab in an emergency.

A study published in the Human Factors journal posits public concern regarding the safety of autonomous vehicles could be mitigated with a humanoid robot behind the controls, Edmunds reports.

The study by Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven, Netherlands introduced over 100 volunteers to such a driver, named “Bob.” The virtual driver’s appearance, movements and driving style were programmed to match those belonging to each participant, who allowed Bob to do the driving in a simulator on a route pre-selected by said test subjects.

The goal was to assess trustworthiness levels in the virtual driver, finding the more Bob looked and drove like a given subject, the more trust the subject would bestow in regard to their safety. Said strategy is in place with other forms of technology already, such as Siri and Cortana in Apple’s and Microsoft’s smartphones, where if the tech in question has a slight bit of humanity — human voices, sociability et al — end users would respond as if the tech actually was human.

Whether there will be a Johnny Cab in the future to help one escape from baddies because they’re actually a spy who may or may not know too much about Mars, or a Hatsune Miku recolor to drive you to her next performance is up in the air for now. Not even Google has placed a Nexus 6 behind the non-existent wheel of its autonomous bubble pod in its testing thus far.

[Source: mrbillyt/Photobucket]

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