Pod will mimic eye contact with pedestrians waiting to cross the road.

Jaguar Land Rover has developed a self-driving pod with “virtual eyes” to work out how much trust pedestrians have in the technology.

The race to create driverless cars...

Research studies have suggested that up to 63 percent of pedestrians are concerned about how difficult crossing the road will be when driverless cars arrive, so JLR has created a pod that can mimic the eye contact normally made between pedestrian and driver before crossing.

Jaguar Land Rover's big-eyed self-driving pod seeks our trust

Built for the British brand’s government-supported UK Autodrive project, the pods have worked with more than 500 test subjects to help scientists find out how future connected and autonomous vehicles can replicate human behaviour and reactions when driving.

In tests on a fabricated street in Coventry, the pod’s huge virtual eyes will “look” at a pedestrian waiting to use a crossing, signalling that the pod has identified the pedestrian and intends to stop for them.

Jaguar Land Rover's big-eyed self-driving pod seeks our trust

The engineers and a team of cognitive psychologists then record the person’s trust levels before and after the ‘eye contact’ to find out whether the addition makes drivers confident the car will stop for them.

Pete Bennett, the future mobility research manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “It’s second nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road. Understanding how this translates in tomorrow’s more automated world is important.

Jaguar Land Rover's big-eyed self-driving pod seeks our trust

“We want to know if it is beneficial to provide humans with information about a vehicle’s intentions or whether simply letting a pedestrian know it has been recognised is enough to improve confidence.”

Gallery: Jaguar Land Rover's big-eyed self-driving pod seeks our trust