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Ford, Virginia Tech reveal the secret of the ‘driverless’ van in Arlington in August

Virginia Tech's 'driverless' van turns heads in Arlington (ABC7)

People in Arlington might remember doing a double take last month seeing what appeared to be a driverless car. But it turns out someone was behind the wheel in a very distinct and strange way.

Ford, which is partnering with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, posted a video on the study that took place.

You can see a man putting on a "seat suit" to conceal the driver and simulate a driverless car since the actual driverless car isn't quite ready for prime time.

The goal is to gauge how pedestrians, human drivers, and cyclists react to the lighting signals on the vehicle, which indicate when it is driving, slowing, or accelerating.

Watch the video above to see the vehicle on the road last month in cCarendon.

According to Ford and Virginia Tech, developing a method for self-driving vehicles to communicate with is critical because there will be no hand waves or head nods between people that we're currently used to.

Arlington was chosen as a test location because of its high-density mix of cars, pedestrians, and bikes.

Throughout August the vehicle traveled a total of 1,800 miles over the course of 150 hours, recording movements and reactions the entire time.

Now Ford and Virginia Tech will be studying all that data as they move forward in the process of making driverless vehicles a reality.

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