Australia is seen as a leader in the development and adoption of driverless cars. Australia’s Smart Cities Plan, highlights that their transformational impact will “fundamentally change how we live and work”. Driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles (AVs) have the potential to contribute to the strategic goals of Australian cities, addressing sustainability and liveability through shared ownership models and reduced congestion. 

However, the uptake of autonomous mobility systems relies upon public trust. Recent injuries, and even a fatality, have highlighted the risks they pose to pedestrians in particular. The project investigates new interfaces for improving public trust and pedestrian safety by allowing vehicles to communicate with the people around them. Along the way, it develops a validated approach, referred to as “hyperreal prototyping”, for simulating real interactions with autonomous vehicles in a virtual-reality environment. 

Benefits include strategies for making driverless cars safer for pedestrians and a new approach for testing solutions to this emerging problem in a low-cost, low-risk way. The project is funded through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project (DP) scheme under the number DP200102604. It involves a collaboration between the University of Sydney’s Design Lab, Urbanism, Intelligent Transport Systems Group  (part of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics) and the Media Informatics and Human-Computer Interaction Groups at Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich.


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This project aims to enhance the perceived sociability, perceived safety, and user experience of autonomous vehicles in their interactions with pedestrians through affective communication.
This project investigates which simulation platforms and prototyping representations to use for evaluating interactions between autonomous vehicles and pedestrians.
We developed a tangible multi-display toolkit to support collaborative design explorations of AV-pedestrian interfaces.