Lyft has been granted a patent that appears to detail the company’s plans for an advanced notification system for its self-driving cars, so they may be able to communicate with pedestrians. 

According to the patent that Lyft filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the San Francisco-based, on-demand transportation firm has invented an autonomous vehicle notification system that detects people, objects and other vehicles in close proximity and presents a predefined message to notify or warn them of the autonomous vehicle’s activities. 

The predefined message that would be presented by the system would be based on the detected entity’s location relative to the self-driving vehicle and based on the type of entity the sensors have detected. The notification will be flashed on the display that is most visible to the entities, particularly to pedestrians. 

The document includes illustrations describing the situations when the autonomous driving vehicle’s notification system would come in handy. One image shows a Lyft car displaying the name of the intended passenger on the windows that are visible to the passenger waiting by the sidewalk. 

Another visual aid shows a self-driving vehicle flashing a sign to a nearby cyclist that it’s safe to pass. This suggests the notification system would be helpful in instances when other vehicles are planning to overtake a Lyft autonomous car. The feature would be able to tell other drivers that the autonomous vehicle is yielding. 

Lyft isn’t the only one that’s working on communication devices and systems for autonomous vehicles. Uber has also applied for a similar patent earlier this year. On the other hand, Drive.ai vans and Daimler’s EQ Fortwo concept cars already come with similar technologies for displaying information.

It’s important to note that companies file patents for their inventions and new technologies, but not all of them see the light of the day. Lyft has been working on its autonomous vehicles since 2017, and it’s possible that this new patent, like many others, wouldn’t really materialize. 

Still, it’s good to know that Lyft is dedicated to improving the user experience its vehicles offer. It would be interesting to see where Lyft’s notification system is headed in the near future, according to Engadget.