FutureStructure

Driverless Van Grabs Attention in Arlington, Va.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute wanted to see how people would react to a normal looking van without a driver in the front seat.

by Aaron Aupperlee, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review / August 11, 2017

(TNS) -- The sight of self-driving cars has become nearly commonplace in Pittsburgh.

But in Arlington, Va., a van thought to be without a driver caused a bit of a hubbub.

"Half a man, half a car seat and a whole lot of questions that we had to answer," NBC 4 reporter Adam Tuss said in his report on the van.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute wanted to see how people would react to a normal looking van without a driver in the front seat and if driverless cars needed to be clearly marked to avoid being a distraction. They dressed a man in a costume designed to look like the front seat of a van and drove around Arlington this week and last.

The news website ARLnow.com broke the story about the van. The site checked with Virginia Tech, Arlington County, the Arlington County Police Department, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for information but came up empty.

Tuss tried to talk to the "half man, half a car seat."

Here's me trying to talk to a man in a car seat costume @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/e5humOM7uS

— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) August 7, 2017

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute eventually told NBC 4 it was their van.

"They are testing it to get real world conditions," Tuss said in his report. "But, man this is one of the strangest stories I have ever covered, but we got to the bottom of it."

You can read more about the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study here .

A Virginia Tech Technology Institute spokeswoman confirmed to the Tribune-Review it was the institute's study and said the results would be made public once the study is complete.

©2017 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.