A silver Ford Transit Connect caused a stir in Arlington, Virginia last week, with the vehicle appearing to be driving completely unmanned. Autonomous vehicles are being tested extensively on the road, but there’s usually a human observer on board to intervene should something go wrong. So what the hell was this van all about?
Numerous publications including Business Insider and ARL Now ran with the story, assuming this was a genuine driverless vehicle, but the reality is much less exciting: it was being piloted by a dude disguised as the driver’s seat.
An NBC Washington reporter caught up with the van on Monday and was able to reveal the curious deception. The publication discovered it was all part of autonomous car research being undertaken by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which we assume had something to do with gauging the average motorist’s reaction to a truly driverless car.
We also can’t help but wonder if the researchers were influenced by the video below…