Augmented reality lets cars communicate to reduce road rage

“In the US every year, 1500 people are injured or killed as a result of aggressive driving”

Chao Wang, a PHD student from the department of Industrial Design, designed a prototype called “social car”. The social car project puts a transparent screen in front of the driver on a section of windscreen that displays projected information from a smartphone, augmenting the driver’s view without blocking it. The app flashes up information about other drivers using the system when the phone’s camera spots their cars. A special periscope lens attachment allows the camera to see cars in front of the driver while it is lying flat to project images onto the screen.

One feature of the system, called CarNote, allows drivers to select a virtual sign to display in extenuating circumstances, such as “going to the hospital” or “rushing to the airport”. Symbols or text appear above their car as viewed by the driver through the windscreen. To stop it being abused, there would be a limit on how often each person could use it, says Wang. Another feature allows users to send Facebook-style “likes” and “dislikes” to other drivers. When someone gives way, you could give them a “like” to show your appreciation, and when someone cuts you up, a dislike. Wang even suggests that insurance companies could factor this into their prices. If someone gets a lot of dislikes, it could impact their rates. After testing, people who saw the signs were more empathetic and forgiving of the erratic drivers. The system did, however, also appear to distract drivers, but Wang’s team is looking to resolve this with future versions.