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Man dressed up as car seat tricks drivers into thinking he’s a self-driving car

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Emily Reynolds
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When a self-driving car was spotted driving around Arlington, Virginia, people were interested, and not just because it was, y’know, a self-driving car.

No: what set this vehicle apart from your average Google Maps car or Uber self-driving beta was its lack of a ‘Lidar array’, the imaging tech that allows cars to see what’s going on in the road ahead of them.

This version, however, just had a flashing bar on the dashboard. Green for go, red for stop: not as high-tech as you’d expect a self-driving car to be, really. The car also seemed to be completely empty, another unusual fact: most self-driving cars have a human in the passenger seat in case things go wrong. 

And that’s because...it wasn’t a self-driving car at all. Watch this:

What you can see there: not a self-driving car. No: what you see there is...a man dressed as a car seat driving a car around.

If you were starting to worry about the kind of man who might dress up as a car seat and drive around pretending to be a driverless car: don’t. It turns out that the driver was not, in fact, a complete weirdo and was conducting Important Scientific Research for Virginia Tech university. 

According to a spokesperson for the university, who spoke to NBC Washington, it was all part of research looking to see how people respond to driverless cars.

“The driver’s seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings,” the spokesperson said.

This is going to be Uber’s next move isn’t it? Make the driver a seat so you can fit an extra person in the car. You can’t stop progress, we guess.

(Image: Waymo)